The Akron business counseling group called SCORE — the Service Corps of Retired Executives — reported its most successful year in history during its fiscal 2011-2012 year for its free services to small businesses in the Summit, Medina, Portage and Wayne county areas.

“Our growth in service to our four-county area increased substantially even with last year’s down economy,” Tom Duke, Akron SCORE chair, said in a statement. “We believe that this was because many citizens who lost their jobs decided to start their own businesses. This is one reason why the only growth area in our economy has been small businesses.”

For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Akron SCORE said:

• Face-to-face and email counseling rose 7 percent to 1,134 sessions;

• Workshops were up 8 percent to 85;

• Workshop attendees were up 7.5 percent to 1,600;

• Total services rose 8 percent to 2,734;

• Number of volunteer hours increased 1 percent to 11,510;

• Number of volunteer counselors increased by 9 percent to 73.

Funding for Akron SCORE is currently being provided by the GAR Foundation, the Akron Community Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

SCORE is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and volunteers offer their expertise free. The office phone is 330-379-3163. The organization’s website is