Agency’s free services help small businesses grow

For this week’s chamber of commerce feature, the Journal-News talked to David Riggs, director of Butler County’s Small Business Development Centers.

The small business center works with the various Butler County chambers.

Riggs and Associate Director Mark Lankford meet with business leaders and entrepreneurs in offices at The Hamilton Mill, 20 High St., Hamilton; and at the Middletown city building, One Donham Plaza.

The Butler County center is jointly funded by the federal Small Business Administration, Ohio Development Services Agency, The Hamilton Mill and Middletown city government.

1. What is the small business development center?

Riggs: “Ohio SBDC was started in 1986. Its mission is to accelerate Ohio’s economy by starting, sustaining and growing companies.”

2. What are the key services you provide?

Riggs: “Free confidential counseling.

“We do educational training and workshops and seminars throughout the year. Business plan preparation.

“One of our other major programs that we feel is one of our best programs is we partnered with Supports to Encourage Low-income Families and Neighborhood Housing to create and administer the microenterprise program (for low and moderate income entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.) We’re on class 11.

“SBDC personnel are paid and highly trained. I’m a certified small business advisor.”

3. What do you most want businesses to know about the center?

Riggs: “Our biggest strength and what we want existing business to know, is if they’re seeking financing, they should come to us before their banker.

“We know exactly what the banks want” to see. “For example, we know all the banks are going to require a business plan and that’s one of our fortes.

“We’ve already developed relationships for some sort of financing for equipment purchases, expansion.”