“I am from the government, and I am here to help.”  

Usually, that phrase will strike fear or conjure suspicion when said to a group of small business owners. However, if it’s being said by a a member of the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), it’s actually true. Founded in partnership with the US Small Business Administration, today the ISBDC has 10 centers throughout Indiana, which provide a range of services to businesses in all stages of their development. Only about 50% of their clients are new companies. The rest are companies looking to grow, change, move into new markets or expand their current operation.

I have always believed the  small business community was an important part of the engine which fuels our economy, so I was  pleased to see the establishment of the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship earlier this year, giving the SBDC and other small business programs a higher profile at the state level. We need even more emphasis on this community, and with their program and successful track record, the ISBDC is leading the way.

What kinds of programs does the ISBDC offer?Here are just a few of the programs making a difference for Hoosiers:

  • In Evansville, a family business round tables gives a forum where these multi-generational organizations can share best practices for the unique challenges they face.
  • In Lafayette, ISBDC acts as a matchmaker between graduate students looking to own a business and owners who are hoping to develop an exit strategy.
  • In the eastern part of Indiana, ISBDC works to revitalize main streets by teaching small retailers how to effectively compete with big box stores.
  • In the northwestern region of the state, they work with veterans, helping them transition from military life to business ownership.
  • In Muncie and Richmond, they sponsor a social media breakfasts to help business owners take advantage of new technologies.

Their services, which are free to business owners, include business consulting, assistance with business planning, market research and more. Their seminars are usually free, or offered at a nominal fee providing business owners around the state access to a wide range of information and resources.

Their services are making a difference. In the last year, companies working with the ISBDC have added more than 1,200 jobs in the state of Indiana. With that kind of impact, small businesses will continue to be an important part of our business community.

Disclosure: I am on the advisory board for this organization, and I am looking forward to even more exciting contributions from them in the next year.