Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflection on 2010 Challenges & 2011 Opportunities

As we prepare to close our offices tomorrow for the holiday week ahead, we want to reflect on the past year and end 2010 on a positive note.

Yes, economically things got pretty rough there for a while; but we know that gloom and doom can't be allowed to rule or we'll never get out of the hole. So here at the SBDC we choose to forge ahead .... to look for and act on positive signs ... to help our clients with creative brainstorming as well as basic business building blocks ... and develop new ways of solving old problems.

It has been our pleasure during the past year to assist many entrepreneurs as they worked through the planning phase of their start-up businesses and took the next step to actually opening a business. We'll be here for them again this year whenever they need to talk.

We were also blessed to have many clients we've worked with over the years return in 2010 to talk about ways to refocus or expand their businesses, re-write their business plans in preparation for applying for small business loans to do that, and even in a slow economy get those loans! Knowing that we played a part in their successes is a feeling we can't quite describe; but we know we like it! And we want it to continue!

Larry Stevens, Director of the Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center in the College of Business, says "The work of assisting our local small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs has never been as important or diversified as it will be in 2011." The SBDC is currently developing programs and preparing to venture into areas that will provide opportunities for both new ventures and existing businesses poised for expansion.

As a participant in the developing Nuclear Cluster (see, the SBDC joins a consortium of private industries, higher education and nonprofit organizations working in unison to support South Carolina's nuclear energy industry by strengthening small businesses which support that industry. Additionally, new funds being made available through the Small Business JOBS Act of 2010 will provide new training opportunities and specialized counseling for business owners looking to expand to create new jobs. Workshops are now being developed to aid businesses in increasing sales, marketing, and creating an online presence on a budget. Watch the SBDC web site for details

All in all, the staff of the SBDC is looking forward to an exciting new year of helping to strengthen South Carolina's economy! Farewell 2010 .... and thanks for the challenge! Welcome, 2011! We're ready to embrace all you have to offer!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

US Dept of Energy Hosts Nationwide Business Expo

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, is proud to present The 12th Annual DOE Small Business Conference & Expo, at the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, MO, May 10-12, 2011.

The DOE would like to make sure that small businesses nationwide will learn about this great opportunity to do business:

• This event will feature plenaries, educational workshops, an Exhibit Hall with over 200 exhibitors/sponsors, as well as business matchmaking sessions. Over 1,600 attendees will represent all levels of federal, state, and local government agencies, the small business community, large/prime contractors, minority educational institutions, and many more!
• The largest civilian contracting agency within the Federal government, DOE spent over $25 billion in contracts in FY 2010. The 12th Annual DOE Small Business Conference & Expo is a great opportunity for Small Business owners, large companies, and universities alike to network and partner.
• Registration will open mid-December 2010.

For more information, please visit or call the Conference Hotline: 866-925-5708

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Expanding Opportunities for Veteran Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

Supporting veteran-owned small businesses is an important part of the Small Business Administration’s mission. Veterans over-index in entrepreneurship. One in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners, and about one quarter of veterans say they are interested in starting or buying their own business. The leadership and management skills veterans have learned during their active duty and reserve service are ideally suited for success as an entrepreneur. With this in mind, SBA has an extensive portfolio of effective loan, counseling and contracting programs that benefit the veteran community.

SBA Programs Supporting Veteran Small Business Ownership

Loans Supporting Veteran Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

o SBA’s two largest loan programs, 7(a) and 504, offer effective financing opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners. In FY 2010, the SBA supported more than 4,800 loans totaling over $1.25 billion to veterans through these two loan programs.
o The Patriot Express Loan Pilot Program offers low interest loans to members of the veteran and military community. Since it was created in 2007, the SBA has approved 6,510 Patriot Express loans supporting more than $500 million in small business lending to veterans, reservists and their spouses.

Entrepreneurship Education for Veterans Wanting to Start or Grow Their Business

o SBA’s Veteran Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC) offers outreach, counseling, training, online assistance and coordinated access to local SBA and other entrepreneurial assistance program. Over the past year the SBA doubled the VBOC Program from eight to 16 locations.
o The Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a partnership between SBA and Syracuse University, delivers entrepreneurship training through a one-year “boot camp” for service-disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to start or grow small businesses. EBV is designed to open the door to business ownership for our veterans. The EBV program is expanding to a total of seven business schools at universities around the country: Syracuse University, University of Connecticut, UCLA, Florida State University, Texas A & M University, Purdue University and Louisiana State University.
o Operation Endure & Grow is a new program that expands on the SBA and Syracuse University ”boot camp” and will provide high quality training, networking and mentoring to support Reservists and U.S. Military family members. The SBA expects 550 individuals to participate in 11 eight week online training cycles and courses during a 24-month period.
o Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is a second new program under the partnership between the SBA and Syracuse University that will deliver high quality training, networking and mentoring in seven locations to 1,400 women veterans during a 36-month period. The program consists of a three-day, off-site training program, online training and network support structures.

Expanding Opportunities for Veterans to Compete for and Win Federal Contracts

o The Small Business Jobs Act established “parity” or a level playing field between service-disabled veterans and other groups of small business owners in the contracting arena. Parity will increase government contracting opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), helping to achieve the government wide 3 percent SDVOSB goal.
o The Small Business Jobs Act established the SBA Mentor-Protégé Program for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses, which will be launched in 2011.
o The SBA is expanding its outreach to service-disabled veterans with a new online contracting tutorial to help veterans and military spouses who own small businesses identify and take advantage of federal contracting opportunities.
o The Office of Veteran’s Business Development provided SDVOSB procurement training to more than 4,000 SBVOSB’s in 2010 to help achieve the 3% SDVOSB goal.

The Recovery Act provided $1.67 billion in contracting dollars to service-disabled veteran owned businesses, exceeding the 3% contracting goal for SDVOSB.

Continuing to Strengthen Support for Veteran Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

o SBA’s Veterans Outreach Initiative provided small business ownership guidance and assistance to over 140,000 veterans and reservists in 2010. This program was recently expanded to 30 SBA district offices.
o SBA’s resource partners, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE and the Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) support the veteran community through counseling and training efforts. Many specially designed programs have also been created such as virtual veterans’ centers. In 2010 these resource partners served 61,454 veterans, 9,214 service- disabled veterans, and 4,218 reservists and/or National Guard.
o SBA chairs the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development focused on improving and expanding opportunities for veteran business owners. These efforts include increasing access to capital, improving business development opportunities, and meeting Federal contracting goals for veteran-owned small businesses service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.


. . . Creating 135 Potential Jobs by Providing Low-Interest Loans

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Nov. 15, 2010) – Four local businesses are poised for growth and job creation in 2011, thanks to a financial boost from the Michelin Development Upstate program. With loans totaling $375,000, these small businesses are benefiting from the second year of Michelin Development loans and $2 million investment from Michelin North America.

Michelin Development provides both funding and business expertise to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses throughout the region. These four businesses are the latest to receive Michelin Development loans: Dealer Ignition, Debra’s Hair Studio, Merge and U Designs Weddings.

“Throughout the Upstate, people are keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive,” said John Tully, president of Michelin Development. “Michelin sees the potential of these small businesses and wants them to succeed. For many right now, their biggest need is funding; socially and economically disadvantaged businesses are often the last to receive that funding.”

Each of the following four companies selected for the most recent Michelin Development Upstate loans are well-established small businesses. They are:

~ Dealer Ignition, LLC – Greenville, S.C. This marketing software agency was born from a dealer’s frustration of not having available marketing tools. In 2008, Steven Wagner designed an easy-to-use tool for dealers to effectively market their brands online, then launched his business: Dealer Ignition. Because his product delivers consistent, ROI-driven results, Wagner’s company has experienced explosive growth.

“The Michelin Development loan has provided us with the ability to fund our sales and marketing growth. We look to increase our global presence. Since securing the loan, we have added 370 customers in 38 countries,” explained founder and Head Ignitor Steven Wagner. also has jobs opportunities posted on their Careers page.

~ Debra’s Hair Studio – Greenwood, S.C. Debra’s Hair Studio has been successfully serving clients for 23 years. Debra Wright, a professional cosmetologist, is now also a trichologist, studying the structural functions and diseases of human hair. After securing a Michelin Development loan, Wright has been able to complete the educational requirements for trichology, earn a new license and add this service for her clients.

“The Michelin Development loan enabled me to become certified in trichology. We can now treat male and female clients with hair loss and scalp disorders—and early detection is the best prevention,” said Wright. “I am also looking to hire additional salon professionals in the next few years.”

~ MERGE – Greenville, S.C. Eight years ago, Adam Landrum founded this interactive agency in Atlanta, GA. Later, he relocated to join Greenville’s vibrant technology community and partnered with Charles Ratterree. With a results-focused business model, MERGE specializes in a consultative approach to designing strategic web solutions. Their goals are aggressive growth and continuing to build a reputation as one of the leading web firms in the Southeast.

“One of our biggest challenges as young entrepreneurs in this economic climate is to manage our cash flow and still be able to access enough capital to strategically hire into our growth. MERGE foresees doubling its staff in the next few years, and now we have the capital to do so. Our Michelin Development loan will enable us to add talented people and create jobs in this community,” said Ratterree.

~ U Designs Weddings – Greenville, S.C. Originally a wedding photography studio and expanding in 2006 to fill a need for a full service event studio, U Designs offers educated and experienced professionals working together in a unique business model. U Designs does more than help you find outside wedding vendors for floral design, custom printing and catering, their team of artists offer each service in-house and work together to create the perfect wedding day.

“We are just thrilled with our growth in these last four years—we’re one of the areas top event design teams! With the Michelin Development loan we will not only expand our inventory and local team, but also launch a second team in the near future. In addition, we opened a non-profit branch that provides wedding services to our military personnel,” said founder and CEO Brie LeBret. “Our expansion means 15-20 new jobs this year.”

Michelin continues to accept applications for additional low-interest loans. Applications can be submitted online at Once a business owner registers and receives a unique user login, they will be asked to outline business plans and strategies.

Michelin Development Upstate opened its Greenville office in September 2009. Carolina First makes and administers loans for the program and works with the Michelin Development Upstate steering committee, a group of local business and civic leaders, to review loan applications. Once an application has been approved by the steering committee, it undergoes normal financial due diligence by the bank. Loans are available from $10,000 to $100,000 and are funded in partnership with Michelin Development Co. and Carolina First.

Michelin Development Upstate loans are available to socially and economically disadvantaged small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the Upstate of South Carolina. To qualify for the program, companies must be based in one of the following Upstate counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. Loans will have up to five year payment terms.

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America ( employs more than 20,900 and operates 18 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SBA Expands Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Vets

. . . Announces Two New Programs for Women Vets, Guard, Reservists and Families

WASHINGTON – With thousands of service men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Syracuse University are expanding their Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) to a seventh school, Louisiana State University, and launching two new entrepreneurship programs for women veterans and National Guard and Reserve members and their families.

According to the SBA, nearly one quarter of veterans indicate they are interested in starting or buying their own small business, and that percentage is even higher among women veterans. With that in mind, the growing partnership between SBA and Syracuse University provides training on how to start and grow a small business to veterans, with programs targeted to service-disabled veterans, women, National Guard and Reserve members and their families of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“When you consider the leadership and management skills our veterans develop while on active and reserve duty, it’s no wonder we see more of them pursuing their dreams as entrepreneurs and small business owners,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Through our partnership with Syracuse University we are continuing to strengthen the tools and resources available to

“We often speak about the sacred trust we have with our service men and women, and one way we honor that trust is ensuring they have every possible opportunity for success,” Mills continued. “When it comes to entrepreneurship, their success also means success in driving economic growth and creating jobs.”

In 2009, SBA partnered with Syracuse University, providing a three-year cooperative agreement providing funding totaling $450,000, to support the university’s year-long EBV program on six campuses. Now in the second year of the partnership, with SBA’s support, the “boot camp” is expanding to a seventh campus, E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University. The other five campuses are: the University of Connecticut School of Business, Mays Business School at Texas A&M, UCLA Anderson School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, and the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.

Created and delivered by a network of some of the best business schools in the country, it is designed to leverage the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to veterans. Last year, the first year SBA partnered with Syracuse University, 129 service-disabled veterans participated in the program. Since the program’s inception, more than 320 wounded warriors have graduated to date and more than 150 businesses to date have been launched
by graduates.

Additionally, SBA is also providing $2.6 million through a cooperative agreement over three years for two new programs supporting veteran entrepreneurs. The first, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), focuses on training, networking and mentorship for women veterans. The three-day, off-site training program, online training and network support structures will be delivered in several locations around the nation, and
anticipates serving up to 1,400 female veterans over a 36-month period.

The second new program, Operation Endure & Grow, targets National Guard and Reserve members, their families and business partners. The goal of this program is to mitigate the economic hardship of deployed members and their families. The eight-week online course will focus on the fundamentals of launching and/or growing a small business for those who will sustain the business when the service member is deployed, injured or killed. Initially 550
individuals are expected to participate. In total V-WISE and Operation Endure & Grow will serve over 1,950 individuals and their families.

The expansion of SBA’s partnership with Syracuse University builds on more than $1.25 billion in loan guarantees for veterans in its flagship 7(a) and 504 programs, and through its Patriot Express loan pilot initiative. In three years Patriot Express has supported nearly $550 million in loans to more than 6,500 veterans and spouses looking to establish or expand their small businesses.

SBA reaches out to veterans through its 68 local SBA district offices, 16 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, and its partnership with 1,000 Small Business Development Centers and some 12,000 SCORE – Counselors to America’s Small Businesses volunteers. SBA has numerous programs creating government contracting opportunities for vet-owned small businesses. For more information visit and

Monday, October 4, 2010

New ideas, New Collaborations & the Jobs Act . . .

The news is all good at the SBDC right now .... we've just returned from our annual national conference of America's Small Business Development Centers, where we learned new strategies and heard new ideas. Some new collaborations have given us access to new technologies and new ways of doing things, and we're very excited about that!

If that weren't enough, President Obama signed into law the new JOBS bill last week which will help us serve more clients .... both new and existing businesses.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 13, 2010

IRS Tax Workshop for Small Businesses

Whether you are planning a business or already in business, plan now to attend our October 18th IRS Tax Workshop to make sure you’re doing all the right things for your small business!

The Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center in Rock Hill, SC is offering a FREE tax workshop for prospective and new small business owners. The workshop will be held from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on October 18, 2010, in Room 415 of the Thurmond Building (College of Business) on the campus of Winthrop University.

The Small Business IRS Tax Workshop contains general information about different types of business organizations, record keeping requirements and business tax returns. This workshop is one of two taxpayer education programs sponsored by the Winthrop Small Business Development Center each year, along with a CPA and representatives of the SC Employment Security and the SC Department of Revenue. It is directed toward the small businessperson who is starting a business or has recently started a small business in the service, retail or manufacturing area. Existing businesses are also welcome.

The morning session will cover federal tax requirements for small businesses and the afternoon session will cover state tax and employment security obligations. A packet of helpful reference publications is given to each participant.

To register for the workshop or for more information, please register online at , or contact the SBDC by calling (803) 323-2283.