, Salem, MA


August 29, 2012

Helping businesses get to the next level

Christine Sullivan is all business.

As chief executive officer of the Enterprise Center at Salem State University, she runs an incubator and resource for small business development. It’s something she knows about firsthand. For 16 years, she had her own small business, Hawthorne Associates, a marketing, advertising and public relations firm.

Each fall, she organizes a series of workshops, panel discussions and peer groups where businesspeople can hear from experts — including each other — about topics ranging from marketing and cash flow to preparing for retirement. She chatted with The Salem News recently about this fall’s program.

Are all your workshops for small businesses? I see you also have programs for young professionals and nonprofit organizations.

We try to cover a range of issues, but our major focus is on small businesses, in all stages of their development. So if you’re a startup, we can help you. If you’re growing and need to learn to grow a business — to get to the next level in your business — wherever you are in your development, we can help. We offer such a wide variety of programs, if you’ve got any issues — planning, financing, transition — you will find something that will help you.

How is a small business defined?

The Small Business Administration legal definition is fewer than 500 employees, and $10 million or $15 million in revenue. But that would be a big business here on the North Shore.

When did the Enterprise Center open?

It opened in 1999. It is affiliated with Salem State University and is located on the central campus. We have a 53,000-square-foot office building with 45 business and nonprofit tenants. But our view is we should be able to help any small business on the North Shore, and we have thrown open our doors. This past year, we ran 70 workshops. I expect by the end of this year we’ll have 6,000 registrations for these programs, (representing) 4,000 to 5,000 businesses — a lot.

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