SCORESLO SCORE, the San Luis Obispo County Chapter of SCORE, is celebrating thirty years of mentoring small businesses on the Central Coast. SCORE is America’s premier source of free and confidential business services and is affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SLO SCORE counselors are business owners and executives, both retired and actively working, who share real world expertise on a long list of topics that includes financing, accounting, marketing and human resources. SLO SCORE provides workshops and offers individual client mentoring sessions on starting a business, business planning, operations and marketing.

SLO SCORE’s all-volunteer team of mentors have  provided service to local powerhouse businesses including Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream, San Luis Sourdough, Tech Express, Advantage Answering Service and The House of Bread.

SLO SCORE began operations in San Luis Obispo in 1984 and has since expanded countywide and into Santa Maria. In its three decades of service, 85 volunteers have mentored a total of 7500 Central Coast individuals and businesses.  In 2012 alone, SLO SCORE assisted the startup of 32 new SLO County businesses and helped 42 existing firms grow operations, adding an estimated $900,000 to the local economy. SLO SCORE has 30 members and is led by a 5 member executive board. Most of the present SLO SCORE members have been with the team for five or more years, with several dedicating more than twenty years to the chapter.

Current chapter chair and local business coach Lorna Whiteaker notes the important role SCORE plays in a recovering economy. “SCORE has been part of the business community for many years, but recent times have created even greater interest and need. Many of the people who lost jobs in the recession of 2008 and 2009 bounced back by starting their own businesses,” Whiteaker said. “SCORE was a lifeline to these people who were reeling from change and considering cashing in their life savings on new ventures.” Whiteaker added that SCORE counselors take personal pride in knowing they’ve helped both startups take root and established businesses expand. “Our team is amazing … and our mentors provide hours of service and support at no cost to the client,” she said.

In 2000, Marci Imes was a young business owner who acquired a second company and was concerned about integrating her two staffs.  A friend suggested SCORE, and after five sessions with business mentors, Imes was on her way. Today the owner and president of Advantage Answering Service is grateful for the help SLO SCORE extended to her. “I was young. I reached out to SCORE and they gave me the confidence to do what I wanted to do,” Imes said.

In addition to workshops and counseling, the group offers numerous printed materials on starting and running a business, including a guide to starting a business in SLO County. SLO SCORE works closely with the SLO County Economic Vitality Corporation and Mission Community Services Corporation.

For more information about SLO SCORE, visit or call (805) 547-0779.