SBDC at JCC Success Story: Jamestown Gazette

Stacey Hannon profileStacey Hannon had always been an entrepreneur. Ever since she was a child, she’d loved building things and making something where there hadn’t been anything before. Naturally, given this inclination toward creation, one of her dreams had always been to start a new business.

“It took me a long time, though. I was 52 when I started.”

Far from being an impediment, the fact that she waited to start her own business meant that she’d had time to gain the skills and experience that she needed to succeed. Through time spent in the radio industry and with other media companies, she also gained the network and contacts that would help her immensely when she started on her dream project: a newspaper.

Since April of 2011, Stacey Hannon is now the owner and publisher of the Jamestown Gazette, a free weekly newspaper for Jamestown, southern Chautauqua County, Cattaraugus County, and Warren County in Pennsylvania.

The path wasn’t always easy – or entirely clear, for that matter. She had a passion, but knew very little in terms of how she wanted to see that passion brought to life. For help, she turned to Jamestown Community College’s Small Business Development Center. She took a few of the SBDC’s free courses on subjects like taxes and Facebook marketing, then signed up for an appointment with Beth Reed, a business advisor at the SBDC.

“I had a manila envelope and in that envelope I had been picking up newspapers, magazines, you name it, from places far away,” she recalls, “South Carolina, Tennessee, Jamestown, of course, and I opened up this envelope and placed these down on the table and said I want to do a free publication. I don’t know what the name of it is going to be, I don’t know what the style is going to be, I don’t know if we’re going to go out once a month or every week, and Beth wrote down a lot of notes and said, ‘Let’s do the research on it.’”

Jamestown Gazette windowTo her surprise, a few weeks later Beth met with Stacey again and she said that there was a market for a free weekly newspaper in Jamestown. From that moment on, she never looked back. Stacey started working with Herb Rice, another counselor at the SBDC, and dedicated herself to starting her new business.

“Through the help that I had through the Small Business Development Center, I felt confident in taking care of getting my business license and my business number, setting up bank accounts, making sure my money was in the right accounts, all the stuff that they don’t necessarily tell you about in the textbooks, but [the advisors at the SBDC] know about, because they’ve been there.”

Even though it’s been several years since she started the Jamestown Gazette, Stacey still keeps track of what classes are being offered and keeps in touch with people at the SBDC. What’s more, over the years she’s referred several people looking to start up their own businesses to the SBDC. Especially for those people who are first-time business owners, she says that she can’t recommend it highly enough.

“It’s extremely comforting to have somebody to talk to when you’re starting your own business, and everybody at the SBDC was very kind to work with and supportive, and that made it much easier. When you left there, you just felt better about everything, like there was support and you were headed in the right direction.”

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