The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) may be one of Joliet Junior College’s best-kept secrets. Located on the Main Campus, at 1215 Houbolt Road in Joliet, the grant-funded organization caters to any Illinois resident with the desire of starting up their own business. The SBDC can also help current owners maintain or expand their business.
SBDC business analysts act as personal advisers or counselors who guide their clients from start to finish with business plans, marketing ideas, loan package preparation and more. One-on-one advising services are free of charge to clients, and everything is always confidential.
Once the first appointment is made, a business analyst will meet with a client to ask a set of initial questions, such as if the client has researched the local competition.
“The Illinois SBDC at JJC is here to help entrepreneurs,” said Amy Murphy, director of JJC’s Corporate and Community Services. “We hope that individuals looking to start their business, as well as local business owners, take advantage of the resources available to them by utilizing the services of our center. Our staff takes tremendous pride in assisting entrepreneurs as they reach their dreams and become successful in their business. Their success creates economic growth and jobs for our community.”
After the first meeting, the client will go home and do the required “homework,” or research and planning for their business idea. Once all plans are ironed out, Murphy said the next step involves the client registering their future business with a desired city. SBDC business analysts will be there for the client if they have questions or need help filling out paperwork.
Murphy said many clients also decide to take non-credit classes that the SBDC offers. Some of these courses include: “Starting Your Business in Illinois,” and “Creating Effective Marketing for Your Business or Non-Profit Organization.”
Since January 2013, the SBDC has already counseled more than 100 new clients, and has helped start up five new businesses. Last year, the SBDC assisted 275 businesses. Murphy said it can take six months or more to start up a business, depending on how prepared the client is when they make their first appointment.
“The SBDC at JJC has been in existence for more than 28 years, helping businesses start up, maintain sustainability, expand their business, and most importantly, succeed,” Murphy said. “We want to be a partner in your success.”
The Illinois SBDC at JJC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Joliet Junior College.