The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
Posted on July 25, 2003
By Elizabeth Doran
Small businesses in the United States appear to get a lot more financial and technical support than Russia gives small businesses there, say business people visiting from Russia.
"I didn't imagine there would be so many agencies and institutes providing business support," said Elena Ilina, who is from Novokuznetsk, in southwestern Siberia. "We have one or two, but here you have many free services to help entrepreneurs."
Ilina is one of 10 Russian emerging business leaders spending nine days in the United States as part of a visit coordinated by The International Center of Syracuse. Eight men and two women attended tours and meetings to learn about economic development in the United States.
The group visited several businesses, toured the business incubator center, CASE Center, Technology Development Center, Empire State Development, Small Business Development Center and other agencies.
They also traveled to Niagara Falls, went shopping at Carousel Center and visited the Air National Guard's 174th Fighter Wing, touring an F-16 and learning how the guard unit operates.
"We're one of the larger employers in the area," said Col. Tony Basile, 174th wing commander. "We have about 1,000 members, and about 70 percent are part-time. They were very interested in that, because their military is smaller but it's all full time. They don't have anything like the reserves."
Basile said they also wondered about the impact to employers when reservists go into combat.
The group also toured Ventre Packing Co., which makes Enrico's pasta sauce and salsa and private-label products.
Several group members said they were surprised company owner John Ventre, 89, conducted the tour and shared information about his plant so openly. That wouldn't happen in Russia, they said.
Aldar Badmayev of Baikial in eastern Siberia, who is general director of an auditing consulting group, said he was impressed by how open Americans are.
"We noticed that and think it's a good foundation for corporations," he said.
In Russia, banks won't lend money to start-ups, so learning how entrepreneurs get financing and put together business plans is intriguing, said Ilina, who is director of a joint stock company.
"We don't have the research and small business support centers at universities and colleges like you do here," she said.
Aleksandr Bukov, who is a law student in Moscow, said they saw practices here that can be adopted in Russia. One is an emphasis on customer service, and another is the role the business community plays in political decision-making, he said.
Lucille Browning, director of the International Center, said the program is a great way to promote citizen diplomacy and international relations at the same time.
© 2003 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.
[Reprinted with Permission]