This is a tale about a jewelry company still located in Providence. That fact alone might be considered newsworthy to some, but to owners Evelyn and Michael Guarino it’s a story about weathering the most difficult economic time this country has seen since the 1920s.
Located on Hartford Avenue, Sunburst Companies has been making jewelry and a variety of other products – gifts, souvenirs, pins, bracelets, badges, pendants and pocket pieces – since 1970. It’s truly a family-owned business, combining the skills of the Guarinos and their two daughters, Donna Fantozzi and Kathleen Gambuto, and sons-in-law. It’s been that way for over a generation.
But the recession, outsourcing, foreign competition and difficulty in obtaining a commercial line of credit are adding increased pressures; and Sunburst Cos. isn’t alone.
That’s why Providence and the U.S. Small Business Administration have signed a two-year agreement with the purpose of growing jobs in the capital city. The announcement was made May 8 at Sunburst.
Mayor Angel Taveras said the agreement will offer free, bimonthly workshops and follow-up support to local businesses. The Center for Women & Enterprise and the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University will also participate.
“We will offer workshops, including the technical assistance needed to navigate starting and operating a business,” Taveras said. “We always focus on bringing in new business. We are not focusing enough on growing what we have.”
Mark S. Hayward, director of the SBA Rhode Island office, called it a landmark agreement.