Community Partner Highlight: Sara Garretson, President, ITAC and Alinda Franks, Community Affairs Director, ITAC

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 / Published in Featured News, Community Partner Highlights
Community Partner Highlight: Sara Garretson, President, ITAC and Alinda Franks, Community Affairs Director, ITAC

1. How long has your organization been in the business of helping small businesses?

ITAC (Industrial + Technology Assistance Corporation) has been in business over 27 years. We are a nonprofit consulting and training organization dedicated to helping New York City manufacturing and technology companies grow. We educate businesses about best practices, we deliver technical assistance, consulting and training to companies, and we partner with other providers to support implementation at the firm level.  For the last fifteen years we have been the designated NYC Center for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the NYS Regional Technology Center. Both these programs enable us access the knowledge of manufacturing experts from across the state and the nation and bring their experience to benefit NYC firms.
 

ITAC is an economic development organization; we support company growth so that the companies can create jobs for New Yorkers.

 

2. What’s been your organization’s biggest hurdle in achieving its goals of aiding small businesses?

Our biggest challenge is reaching the right company at the right time. Although we’re well established, we previously have not done a significant amount of marketing in terms of bringing awareness to our brand. We’ve been letting our work speak for itself. In today’s environment, you have to let people know who you are and what you do. In the last two years, we’ve increased the amount of programming and event workshops, we have engaged in social networking and have increased our partnerships with other organizations who work with companies in their communities.
 
There is a vast array of resources available for small businesses, especially in New York City. It has been hard to distinguish ITAC. We pride ourselves in working with companies in depth, to help them get past their barriers and challenges and to help them to grow.
 
The other challenge is how to scale in a city this size, so that we can have an impact. The work that we do in its very nature is in depth.  Our most effective work is achieved through one on one counseling which is very time consuming. At the same time there are a lot of companies to assist – the challenge is balancing both objectives.
 

3. Describe any major accomplishments for ITAC over the last year.

One of our major accomplishments, in terms of the last decade, is that we’ve reached our $1.7 billion mark this year, in terms of the impact that we’ve had on companies and on the economy. This encompasses jobs, sales, investments and cost reduction.
 
We’ve seen so many of the companies that we’ve worked with grow and expand. Many were just beginning to get off the ground and now they’re in a position to continue growing. It was rewarding to see them grow from a small startup to such well-established, expansive businesses.
 

4. What are the key strategic goals for your organization over the next year?

One of the challenges is how to leverage the resources that we have at our disposal, in order to create a systematic way to help small firms that don’t have a lot of resources. We’d like to continue expand our partnerships. It’s the way to increase our impact. One of our key strategies is to partner with more organizations, in ways that complement our mutual strengths and deliver seamless services to the companies.
 
We are increasingly emphasizing company growth for both early stage companies and mature companies. In particular we are developing programming aimed at assisting early stage firms to scale successfully and to do it in a way that creates jobs for the city and the state. As part of this activity we are aiming to link the production needs of NYC high growth firms with the manufacturing capacity of Upstate firms.
 

5. What should a small business entrepreneur know about your organization?

Every company experiences a certain amount of pain along their growth path and small business owners should be aware that our experience and depth can help ease these pains. We bring a keen eye and depth of knowledge based on what we’ve seen in the past.  We will help them navigate the challenges – both growth opportunities and cost reduction, as well as delivery requirements.  If you have a manufacturing or growth issue, call ITAC.
 

6. Where can they get more information about ITAC?

Online at www.itac.org
 

7. Describe your partnership with NYBDC and why it is instrumental to your organization achieving its mission.

We see that manufacturing and technology companies may not be able to access the traditional means of getting financing to grow their company. An organization such as NYBDC, with its different types of lending program, gives them options that they may not get through traditional commercial banks.
 
NYBDC and ITAC have similar goals, which is that we want companies to create jobs. NYBDC finances companies and ITAC makes sure that the companies spend the money in the most effective ways resulting in job creation and company growth.  In the end, we both benefit from helping a company that is in New York experiencing growth, employing people and creating jobs. That is the ultimate end result.
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