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The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center this week announced the creation of a new, full-time position dedicated to Newport County small businesses.

The Newport Area Regional Director will help area small businesses launch, stabilize, and grow, capitalizing on the many strengths of this beautiful and important economic hub at this crucial time. Accomplished business expert Paul Harden, who is also a longtime Newport resident, will pioneer the position, effective immediately. Harden will work with businesses located in Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton, Bristol and Warren.

The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (RISBDC) provides small business owners in the state with the services and expertise they need to succeed: no-cost expert counseling, relevant training, and access to vital resources. The RISBDC supports businesses at every stage, from start-up through maturity, and continues to support small businesses throughout the COVID crisis.

“It is critical that the business community has a strong resource now more than ever to survive and thrive during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and moving forward into the future,” said Ed Huttenhower, Executive State Director of the RISBDC in a statement. “Paul will provide the type of assistance that will help the small business community accomplish this.”

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“Having a skilled and knowledgeable regional director and business advisor who can dedicate all of his time to this area of the state will help many businesses get through these difficult times and prepare for future opportunities,” said Diane Fournaris, Associate State Director of the RISBDC in a statement.

Harden joined the RISBDC in 2018 and quickly established himself as a valuable part of the team. With more than 30 years of experience with economic development in the Ocean State, working in a wide range of companies both in scope and size, he brings a common-sense approach to business problem solving that is especially needed now. Harden has in-depth knowledge about a variety of industries, including the marine industry, and understands the Newport/East Bay market and what it takes for businesses located in this area to be successful. He is Chair of the City of Newport’s Waterfront Commission and is on the Executive Board as Treasurer of the RI Marine Trades Association. Funding for the position comes from the CARES Act. 

The RISBDC’s business counselors cover the entire state, with headquarters on the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston, plus outreach office locations in Providence, Lincoln, Warwick, Middletown, Westerly, and Warren. The RISBDC is currently offering a variety of virtual workshops at no cost to small business owners and entrepreneurs that address current small business needs and issues.

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