The Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce will soon be offering its Small Business Development Academy, an eight-week course addressing the basics in regards to starting and sustaining a small business. This well-established, respected program is free and open to all, made possible by the sponsorship of First Niagara. Topics will include: creating a business plan; obtaining financing; bookkeeping and taxes; customer service; insurance considerations; marketing and much more.

The kickoff session will beWednesday, October 2, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Norwalk Inn & Conference Center, 99 East Ave. This session will feature words of wisdom and inspiration from Joseph Passero, chief operating officer of Klaff’s Inc.

A true visionary, Passero has pioneered some of the industry’s most innovative retail strategies, bringing decades of uninterrupted growth to the specialty store and elevating it to its current leadership position in the category. But the real draw is Passero’s stable of in-house design consultants, whose expertise and personal one-on-one attention are the true gems of an operation that thrives on longterm homeowner relationships.

Klaff’s has three full-service showrooms in South Norwalk, Danbury and Scarsdale, N. Y., offering kitchen and bath design, lighting, decorative hardware, and tile and stone.

Not only is First Niagara serving as the sole sponsor of this venerable program, but it will also be participating directly within a number of sessions.

The sessions will continue for the next six consecutive Wednesdays, all 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Norwalk Inn. The program will culminate with a graduation reception and ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at which certificates will be presented to those who have completed the program.

To register for this free program, contact the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce at 203-866-2521, or e-mail to