1.6 million SBA grant will support small businesses throughout state


    The federal Small Business Administration has announced a series of grants to Small Business Development Centers in Michigan and other states to help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses and create jobs.

    The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center based at GVSU received the largest of the grants. It will use it over the next two years to provide strategic and financial consulting to small businesses throughout the state, particularly manufacturers with nine or more employees and sales of $1 million-plus.

    Grants to Alaska, California, Idaho, Iowa and South Carolina ranged from $325,000 to $655,055, while the grant to the MI-SBTDC totals $1,622,560.

    SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns said the first six grants are part of $50 million in funding included in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 signed by the president last September.

    The head of Michigan’s program, Carol Lopucki, said the grant will “allow us to bring onboard nine finance and strategy specialists to work directly with existing companies.”

    “We are off and running. The hiring documents started spinning the moment this hit the ground,” Lopucki said.

    Grand Valley State University is the statewide host of the MI-SBTDC organization, which has a network of a dozen locations throughout the state. Headquarters are at the GVSU Seidman College of Business in downtown Grand Rapids.

    Jennifer Demaud, associate director of the MI-SBTDC, said Michigan received the largest of the first round of grants from the Small Business Jobs Act based on the state population, compared to the other states that just received grants.

    “I would also like to note that Michigan was the first in with a proposal (to the SBA). We actually had a proposal right around Thanksgiving, so we are a shining example for all the SBTDCs” around the country, she said.

    The MI-SBTDC goal over the two years of the funding is to increase its client consultation by 13,500 hours, increase access to capital for the second-stage manufacturing companies by $90 million, create 1,800 jobs, and increase help to the manufacturers that support its efforts to diversify into new markets, in view of the downturn in the state’s auto industry.

    The nine new team members have prior experience in banking/finance and corporate strategic planning, she said.

    A MI-SBTDC consultant can work with a small company and its lending institution to possibly improve that relationship. In some situations, she noted, the consultant may be able to help the small business “in seeking out other relationships” for capital.

    Many small manufacturing companies do not have a chief financial officer, suggested Demaud, so the MI-SBTDC Growth Team and Manufacturing Team consultants can help in the areas of growth strategies and access to capital.

    Entrepreneurs and small business owners may access the services of their nearest MI-SBTDC by calling (616) 331-7480.

    SBTDCs provide counseling, training and market research for Michigan’s new business ventures, existing small businesses, expanding new businesses, new technology companies, and innovators.

    In 2009, 27 percent of the 15,808 clients served by the SBTDC were manufacturing businesses.

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