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Court reporting in the spotlight during National Small Business Week

NCRA applauded the many court reporting firms and freelance court reporting professionals that contribute to the local, state, and national economy in recognition of National Small Business Week, which was June 17-21. The event was sponsored by the Small Business Administration to highlight the impact of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The SBA recognizes companies with fewer than 500 employees as small businesses and attributes them with generating more than half of the nation’s nonfarm private Gross Domestic Product. In addition, the administration notes that small businesses account for nearly half of all jobs in the private sector. According to NCRA, approximately 70 percent of its membership is comprised of freelance court reporters and captioners. In addition, hundreds of court reporting firms throughout the United States provide an array of services including court reporting, broadcast captioning, assistance to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, legal videography, business and corporate reporting, and more.

“Success in small business is a huge part of the American Dream, and the SBA is a wonderful resource for small businesses such as court reporting firms, many of which might never have been able to open without the administration’s support,” says NCRA President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, owner of The Varallo Group in Worcester, Mass., a nontraditional agency that offers court reporting, business development, and administrative support services to reporters and reporting firms.

“I was fortunate to leverage an SBA loan in 2012 to make a game-changing acquisition,” says Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, president and CEO of Paradigm Reporting and Captioning in Minneapolis, Minn. “The SBA loan program provided the opportunity that led to key funding for growing my business. Its favorable terms proved to be very small-business friendly.”

While the SBA provides valuable financial resources to small businesses, NCRA also works to provide resources of its own to help owners and senior management of court reporting firms succeed by improving their businesses’ bottom lines, says Varallo. Each February, the association hosts its Firm Owners Conference, which offers attendees networking opportunities, as well as educational and informative sessions led by leading business experts. In addition, NCRA’s annual Convention & Expo held each year in August provides court reporters from all segments of the profession with a variety of educational and instructional sessions, numerous networking opportunities, and access to vendors attending to showcase their latest products and services. In October, the association holds an annual Legal Video Conference that offers a two-day seminar and a legal video forum led by some of the best faculty in the profession.

“We are proud to recognize that court reporting firms and freelance court reporting and captioning professionals are part of the vital small business sector of our nation’s economy,” says Jim Cudahy, CEO and executive director of NCRA. “Starting, growing, and succeeding in small business can be very difficult, especially if the right resources are not available. The SBA has a strong history of making success achievable, and court reporting firms are fortunate to have access to its resources.”

Created in 1953 as an independent agency of the government, the SBA has long provided financial aid and council to help grow small businesses and has assisted in protecting the interests of this segment of the market. Today, the agency provides assistance through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. The SBA has recognized the efforts and growth of small business in the United States with an annual Small Businesses Week since 1963.