By Wayne Gates –
Local business owners took advantage of some expert help at Southern State Community College in Mt. Orab on June 27.
The Clermont Small Business Development Center hosted a gathering of state and federal agencies with one goal…to help local business owners succeed.
Representatives from the Small Business Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, The Ohio Bureau of Workman’s Compensation, Southern Ohio Procurement Outreach Center, and the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission all participated.
“We are letting community business owners, entrepreneurs and would-be startups to know that these resources are available. There are a lot of free things available that can help you succeed,” said Clermont SBDC Director Tracy Hawkins.
“What we are talking about today is access to capital. Some people need money for equipment or for a building or to hire more people. We are talking about how to help them do that.”
Hawkins said that living in Brown County could actually be an advantage for would-be business owners.
“There are a lot of rural development grants. Maybe you already have a building and you need to become more energy efficient and cut some of your costs, there are grants to help you,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins is employed by the State of Ohio and works out of the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce offices in Eastgate.
She said that the SBDC offers help to current and potential business owners on a regular basis.
“We have classes called ‘steps to new business’ where we bring in people like attorneys, insurance agents, bankers and accountants to help people remove some of the speculation involved in starting a new business and help them get on the track to success,” Hawkins said.
She added that free individual help is offered as well.
“We do one on one counseling to help them come up with their business plan and cash flow analysis so that they know exactly how to manage their money. We can also help someone who is ready to retire and wants to talk about maximizing the value of the business prior to the sale,” Hawkins said.
The next project for the SBDC is partnering with UC Clermont for a series of four classes on developing a business plan.
The classes will be held at UC Clermont on four consecutive Monday evenings and the SBDC will offer video replays at the Clermont Chamber beginning in August.
Those attending the classes or viewing the replays will get about 60 days to submit their business plans in a competition to win cash prizes for the first three places.
Hawkins said that the competition is open to entrepreneurs and small businesses (500 or fewer employees) in Clermont and Brown counties.
Interested parties can call the SBDC at (513) 576-5007 for additional information.
Hawkins said that anyone who is thinking about starting a business should give her office a call.
“Knowledge is power. There are a lot of free resources out there for small business owners or those who want to start a business,” Hawkins said.
She added that all consultations held at the SBDC are confidential.