January 20, 2011

Small Business Development Center will serve broad area

Small Business Development Center will serve broad area

By Michael Johnson
Small business hopefuls and entrepreneurs are soon to get a helping hand from a small business development satellite center headquartered in Underwood. The center will start with one part-time business consultant and serve both McLean and Sheridan Counties by providing guidance to those looking to start a business in the area.
This position, now being advertised for, started being thought about not long after Becky Bowen came on the scene in Underwood as the economic developer. The past year she and Underwood Area Economic Development Corporation (UAEDC) board members have been hoping to see this position come to be. It looked like those hopes could be dashed when they were denied a USDA grant in November but it’s now full steam ahead with plan B, Bowen said.
Plan A
The original plan was to have a two-year pilot program that would create two positions. It also included the development of a business incubator. The incubator is basically an office space that a new business person could rent if their funding is too limited to buy or rent their own building on main street. The incubator would also include a copier, phones and basic office equipment that would allow a new business to function and blossom in the area. Several offices and business people could share one large building and spread out the costs.
Plan B
Plan B is the narrowed version that allows for a small business center with one part-time employee. No incubator would be created under this plan. This plan would mean the city of Underwood pays a maximum of $15,000 per year. Bowen said she would talk with other communities to help pay for this amount. The North Dakota Small Business Development Center will match UAEDC’s contribution.
But there is still hope for the whole package. Bowen has submitted two more grant applications, a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Community Development Grant (RCDI) application that could allow the original plan to come to fruition.
 


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