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The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas Impacts Local Economy

Posted Nov. 7, 2011

Ohio Small Business Development Center business advisor Joe Belinsky discusses a business plan with business owners Brenda Eckstein and Barb Green.

Assisting individuals in starting, sustaining and growing their businesses is the mission of the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State University at Tuscarawas. The center has been able to assist more entrepreneurs since receiving funding from the federally sponsored Jobs Act program.

“In March, our district received $125,000 from the Ohio Jobs Act program for counseling and training through our 10 counties. Our district includes Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum and Tuscarawas counties,” states Steve Schillig, director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center.

Schillig says that the center performed optimally and had to ask the state for additional funds to continue its program through the end of the year. “We received a 50 percent increase to carry us through the end of the year and we’re fortunate enough to assemble some very talented and experienced advisors to assist our clients,” he says. “Our roster of advisors now includes two CPAs, a human resource specialist, former business owners, a retired executive of a Fortune 500 company, ex-bankers, and the list goes on. All told, we now have 16 advisors who are able and willing to provide guidance for virtually any issue a client may have.”

Barb Green of Leesville and Brenda Eckstein of Roswell are two such clients. When they decided to open a new business they went to the Ohio Small Business Development Center for business counseling and advising. In August, they opened Honey B’s Janitorial Service LLC, located in Leesville.

“Barb Green and Brenda Eckstein attended one of our business start-up classes several years ago and turned to us when they decided to re-start their business this year,” says Schillig. “We worked closely with the two entrepreneurs, guiding them through the critical start-up phase. We also provided general assistance with developing a much-needed business plan, offered assistance with obtaining the proper licenses, registering their business, completing the required tax forms and securing adequate insurance coverage.”

“We came to the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas for professional advice,” says Eckstein. “We attended the center’s New Business Start-Up workshop. The center’s business advisors helped us fill out the necessary paperwork. Their expertise was really appreciated, especially since everything has changed so much — with everything computerized and the different legal aspects.”

Eckstein and Green are interested in acquiring cleaning jobs for the government. Green believes that the knowledge they gained from the center will improve the way they do business. “It’s amazing the guidelines you need to know to get government jobs,” says Green.

Pat Matchett, a counselor with the Ohio Small Business Development Center who was hired through the Jobs Act program funding, says, “Barb and Brenda are ideal clients as they followed through with each requirement in setting up their business. I am so impressed with their enthusiasm, passion and commitment as they move forward to reinvent themselves with education and a business they love. Most people are looking to relax once their children are raised, but these ladies are now burning their candles at both ends to fulfill their dreams. They are an inspiration.”

Green and Eckstein are also receiving financial recordkeeping advice in order to properly track their business progress. The two have been encouraged to consider a membership with the local Chamber of Commerce as a way to further market their services.

Green and Eckstein, who have known each other for more than 20 years, opened a successful residential cleaning business in 2000. They were in business for six years, but as their families grew they closed the business to concentrate on their families. They missed working together and when a new opportunity arose they decided to start a business together again.

“This is for us,” says Green, a 55-year-old mother of three, grandmother of five and great- grandmother to one. “It’s time for us to do our own thing.” Both women are married. Eckstein has four children and five grandchildren.

Green and Eckstein will continue to take business classes and meet with advisors at Kent State Tuscarawas to keep them on track with their business plan.

Success stories like that of the Honey B’s is the goal of the Jobs Act program.

“We have recorded 16 business starts since the Jobs Act program got underway in March and we still have several months until the first year comes to an end,” Schillig says. “In addition, we are at 57 percent of the capital infusion goal of $750,000, and 82 percent of our goal to create and save 45 jobs. This has been a very efficient use of tax payers’ dollars evidenced by the tangible results from our clients.”

The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas is the District 10 Lead Center. For more information about the center, visit www.tusc.kent.edu/businesscommunityservices or call 330-308-7522.