Self Employment is a Valid Employment Option

The NEBA business development program is still growing

When Jeannine Pavlak, NEBA Executive Director, discussed the concept of self employment with the MA Dept of Developmental Services in 2007, there was no idea that this concept would become an opportunity for a very broad range of individuals.  The initial program was designed to determine if self employment was a realistic approach for families struggling with the “next step” for their adult child with special needs.

The initial program focused on entrepreneurial skills and how these skills apply to developing a business idea.  The creation of a business plan was the ultimate a goal. The initial group of seven completed the program.  Out of the group, three individuals completed a business plan and started a business.  Two of those businesses are still operating.

In 2008 the program moved to the Scibelli Enterprise Center as the Business Consulting Center. As of May, 2012, 20 individuals are active in the business center, which is now named the Business Development Center,(BDC) in recognition of its status as a Community Development Center.  Some of these individuals have completed a business plan and are in some phase of business development.  Some are just starting a business plan.  Currently, there are thirty five business plans with approximately active businesses.

These business owners reside throughout Massachusetts.  One active alumnus lives in Reno NV and still contacts the BDC for assistance.  Some completed the program in a class setting, some in a one-on-one approach.  Others used Sykpe or the virtual program while others held their session over the telephone.  To a person they are committed to having a business that will support both them and the operating costs of the business.   For those receiving a tax funded benefit, being self supporting is a highly sought goal.

Some individuals come to the center with their idea already formed and in action.  Most have a vague idea of a business concept and need to write their plan before actively starting the  marketing and sales activities.  About 30% of the individuals who start to write a business plan leave the program as they learn what is necessary to have a successful business.

Looking to the future the BDC is now prepared to provide self employment support to the residents of Connecticut and Worcester County, MA.  Individuals interested in working with the BDC may be referred by agencies such as BRS, Mass Rehab Commission, Dept Developmental Services, Mass Commission for the Blind and the Veteran’s Administration. Comparable Connecticut agencies can refer individuals to the BDC.

The Social Security Ticket to Work program gives individuals the means to write a business plan at the BDC and the center offers  affordable rates for individuals who must self pay.  If you or someone you know is interested in writing a business plan visit NEBA’s website at to learn more about supported self employment.