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Afternoon News Update 4/30
SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- "Small businesses are the fuel that makes New York's economic engine run," says Governor Cuomo.
Under the Self Employment Assistance Program, (SEAP) the state has worked with unemployed New Yorkers and provided them with resources they need to launch their own businesses. Governor Cuomo says the program is a win-win, giving the unemployed a better shot at reaching for the American Dream.
In the past, individuals who took part in the SEAP program were entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits. That included any weeks one would have collected prior to being accepted in SEAP.
Program participants did not qualify for any additional or extended benefits, however, Governor Cuomo has recently announced the expansion of the program. Now, it includes residents who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks, as well as those receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) because of Superstorm Sandy or other events.
In 2012, 586 unemployment insurance claimants participated in the SEAP Program and 363 of them started their own businesses. One of the program's beneficiaries, "Simply Special," is owned by Beth Pechtel.
"I had always dreamt of running my own business, but never had the courage to just do it. When I lost my job, I went to the unemployment office and asked if they had any programs to help start my own business and they told me about SEAP, it seemed like the perfect opportunity," says Pechtel.
To enroll in the program, participants must have received at least 13 weeks of regular unemployment benefits or have 13 weeks of EUC remaining. Participants also must develop a business strategy, attend 20 hours of entrepreneurial training, meet with a business counselor at least twice and work full-time on starting their businesses.
"Most people only have one mentor, I took on two," says Pechtel. "Kate Becker from The Small Business Development Center in Albany and Richard Sellers from SCORE were great mentors. Kate would tell me to focus on four priorities. She knew how overwhelming the process could be, and was really focused on helping me build a successful business."
Recipients of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits must demonstrate that they are actively seeking work to be eligible for assistance. Under SEAP, unemployed New Yorkers interested in launching their own business, rather than seeking other employment opportunities, are eligible to receive the same UI benefits and entrepreneurial training while they work full time to start their own business.
"It's exhausting and sometimes lonely, but I am home for my family and my schedule is flexible. I don't have a boss to report too. People are trusting me with their most precious memories and I'm giving them something that is Simply Special, more than anything, it is just rewarding," says Pechtel.
If you are interested in reaching out to Beth, or interested in what her company has to offer you can visit her website by clicking [here].
You can also find other success stories in Governor Cuomo's press release [here].
For more information on the SEAP Program [click here], or contact the State Labor Department at (888)-469-7365.