Small Business Development Center aims to mentor
June 11, 2008 · Updated 3:04 PM
"For Sharon Zerr and Bert Cole, it is time to stop messing around when it comes to doing business in Kitsap County.That's why they are among the entrepreneurs who have started the Central Kitsap Business Development Center, a group that really wants to get down to business.The essence of it is to provide a business-friendly organization, Cole said. We have found this to be a legitimate need in our county.The group started two years ago when Zerr, Cole and other business leaders realized that existing organizations had lost sight of what makes businesses excel independent of community devotion. After brainstorming meetings, research and a $6,000 grant from Wal-Mart, the group was underway.We are so apologetic about doing business in Kitsap County, Zerr said. We have this 'bake sale' mentality and lose the hard-core business principals.Zerr, a former Silverdale Chamber of Commerce executive director who owns CommuniCreations in Port Orchard, said her business has been successful because of the degree of professionalism it is run with - clients cannot tell the difference between her business and one in New York or Los Angeles. She said area businesses must have the same reputation if they want to grow and she hopes the center will encourage and teach the same principals that have made her successful on a national scale. Not that Zerr and Cole have shunned all other business organizations. They plan to work with existing chambers of commerce and other organizations. However, they want the group to be free of government programs and funding. Who really wants the government to run their business? Zerr said. The group hopes to get five mentors to foster connections and conduct workshops on the legal, marketing, finance, business and information technology aspects of business. Zerr and Cole called the mentors the core resource for the center. Cole hopes to get the mentors from word of mouth within the business community.We are not going to put a plea out to the community, Cole said. We don't just want five bodies in there.Although Cole said the first year of the center is crucial to its survival, he would like to see it make a lasting impact. Cole said there is still a lot of work to be done before the center is what he wants it to be, but he is determined to see it become what he and Zerr think Kitsap area business owners need.People are too busy doing busyness, not business, Zerr said. We need to stop whining and get the work done. "