SIU small business development center faces closure - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIU small business development center faces closure

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CARBONDALE -- Several Southern Illinois University employees, who help small businesspeople in Southern Illinois for free, could soon be laid-off.

If state leaders fail to agree on a new budget by the end of March, the Small Business Development Center will close. It helps about 600 small business owners throughout Southern Illinois, including in Jackson, Franklin and Perry Counties.

Pryor Jordan, owner of Saluki Screen Repair, is one of them. He started fixing cell phone screens in his apartment, before setting up a more permanent business in Carbondale. For help with the transition, he turned to SIU's Small Business Development Center.

"First thing they told me was: 'Gotta write a business plan,'" Jordan said.

It's a resource Pryor calls vital for local development. Most of the center's funding comes from state grants, which aren't being distributed because of the Illinois budget impasse.

"It's a shame because so many small businesses, like myself, came out of the SBDC," Jordan said.

Other businesses that the center has helped include: Southpass Beads in Cobden, Ground Flooring Mobile Design Center in Herrin and Today's Technology Auto Repair in Carbondale.

Greg Bouhl, director at the small business center, said services are provided free and include helping a business boost sales, obtain loans and export products.

"Our small business development center works with about 600 different small businesses every year, from 'I need to start a business,' to 'I need to expand and grow,'" Bouhl said.

Those who benefit from the center view it as a tool to attract business, a big priority for Carbondale city leaders as they work to develop downtown.

"Without the SBDC you don't have new companies coming and growing here in your city. So it's going to have a long-term economic impact," Jordan said.

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