Small businesses dial up technical experts for free

November 05, 1991|By David Conn

Whether they know it or not, small businesses in Maryland now have computerized access to most of the world's business and science publications. They are able to talk about their business problems with a nationwide network of 10,000 technical experts.

And while companies such as General Dynamics Corp., IBM Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. have been paying thousands of dollars for these services, they are available to Maryland companies for the low, low price of . . . zilch.

Under a new program unveiled yesterday, Maryland's six Small Business Development Centers are offering their clients the services of a Minneapolis company called Teltech Resource Network Corp. Teltech maintains a staff of librarians who help clients conduct computer searches through more than 1,000 business and science data bases. And the company keeps on retainer a network of 10,000 technology experts, covering more than 2,400 technical disciplines, available for confidential telephone consultations.

The service is free to small Maryland companies because the state is one of six recipients of Technology Assistance Program grants, which Congress made available this year. Maryland's $50,400 matching grant came from the National Institute of Technology and Standards, according to Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

"It is a challenge for any Maryland business to remain current," Mr. Wasserman said. The Teltech program "is designed so that small companies . . . have a level playing field when it comes to gaining access to information," he said.

To date, Minnesota is the only other state that has made the system available to its companies, although for a fee.

D8 For information, businesses can call (800) USE-SBDC.

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