Small Business Development Center recognized by Gov. Taft

January 5th, 2007    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

After 24 years of service, the Small Business Development Center operated by the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce was recognized by Governor Taft for the contributions they make to business in the region. John Melvin, Director of the SBDC, said that the center received written recognition recently for their efforts.

“This was a letter of recognition to the Clermont Chamber of Commerce for the many years of hosting the small business development center,” said Melvin. “It commented on the governor’s appreciation for the work that small business development centers do in terms of assisting entrepreneurs and creating opportunities for jobs and investments in the community.”

Small business development centers are located around the nation and are designed to provide small businesses with a boost. The boosts can come in the form of planning, networking and counseling – all ways to provide small businesses with support that they generally need, but can’t find elsewhere.

"In the broadest general terms, the SBDC is a program sponsored by the Small Business Administration," said Melvin. "There are about 1,100 SBDCs across the United States. In Ohio, the SBA partners with the Ohio Department of Development, and the Ohio Department of Development works with local hosts like the chamber to place SBDC counselors so they are available to small business owners."

The overall plan of an SBDC is to help businesses start and keep running.

"The primary mission of the SBDC is to start, sustain and grow small businesses in Ohio," said Melvin. "The target area is to work with existing small businesses and also accommodate the needs of people who want to buy or start a small business. We provide assistance with information, one-on-one coaching and counseling, training and referrals to other network sources. In our case, this SBDC has been here 24 years, typically I work with about 600 individuals a year with two thirds of those owning or managing an existing small business, with the other third having an interest in starting or acquiring a small business."

As in any business, small businesses require lots of planning, said Melvin, which can take many forms. Funding is hard to come by, focusing your business model can be intimidating for inexperienced and veteran business owners alike, and specialized areas of business operation, such as patents, can be taxing for business owners who have a lot on their plate. To that end, the SBDC is open to virtually anyone who needs the services it offers.

"I work in areas like planning, which can be operational planning or strategic planning," said Melvin. "I do marketing, human resources, financial analysis, loan packaging, patents and trademarks and those kinds of areas. This is open to anyone who is going to have a legitimate, for-profit business. It's not limited to Clermont County residents. In fact, a third of my customers are from outside the county. It's not limited to chamber members, so it's open to anyone who is interested in owning or operating a business. Most of the services are provided for free, so it's taxpayer dollars at work, and is supplemented by the host organization, the Clermont Chamber of Commerce."

Recently, the Clermont SBDC has averaged a strong statistic of yearly business startups and generated a lot of activity in this region.

"Through the SBDC, we're starting about 60 small businesses a year," said Melvin. "Not all of those are in Clermont County. Last year, those startups created 166 new jobs. Another measurement we look at is the amount of investment dollars created, and last year we generated about $10.2 million in commercial loans. Some of that went to startups and some to existing businesses."

However, despite the high number of customers that comes through the SBDC, Melvin said that only a small percentage of businesses actually utilize the service.

"This seems to be a well-kept secret, even though it's been around a while," said Melvin. "Most people are unaware of the services offered to them, and the breadth of those services that can be offered by the SBDC."

For more information, call John Melvin at (513) 576-5007.
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