HOLLAND — Additional support for small businesses in the Holland area is on the way, with the Michigan Small Business Development Center working to open a local office.
The SBDC is working with the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce so business counselors can establish regular office hours locally. The chamber in May offered the SBDC office space for a business counselor, President Chris Byrnes said.
The chamber now refers small business owners to other SBDC satellite offices in Ottawa County, or to the local chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a volunteer group of retired businesspersons.
“This would add one more resource to the mix,” Byrnes said of the satellite office. “We just thought this is one more asset for the business community.”
The SBDC’s regional office in Grand Rapids has served small businesses in Holland for years through its satellite offices in Grand Haven and Allendale. SBDC Regional Director Nancy Boese hopes to have business counselors begin holding regular office hours in Holland by September.
“We’re looking to revamp our delivery services,” Boese said. “Instead of them coming to visit us, we’re going to visit them.”
Rotating from satellite offices in Allendale, Grand Haven and Muskegon, counselors would initially probably start out in Holland one day a week and increase hours as demand dictates, she said.
“As the need increases, as the word gets out, we’ll increase staff there,” Boese said.
The regional SBDC is able to expand its satellite through the additional financial support it has received from Grand Valley State University’s Seidman School of Business, which earlier this year became the host of the Michigan SBDC office. The goal is to expand the number of available business counselors in the Ottawa-Kent-Muskegon county region from three to six, Boese said.
That kind of service expansion is exactly what David Mielke, dean of the Seidman School of Business, had in mind when GVSU connected with the state SBDC. The plan fits with Mielke’s broader agenda of strengthening ties between the Seidman School on Business and the West Michigan business community.
Placing a satellite office in Holland “makes sense,” Mielke said.
“It’s extremely important for us to be highly visible and provide the support in all of those locations,” he said. “As a public institution receiving public money, we have a responsibility to serve as a resource. That’s part of our mission.”
The SBDC provides free counseling, low-cost training and market research and serves as an advocate for small business.