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Veteran Turns to Entrepreneurship as Retirement Approaches

Success Story: Vermont

Veteran turns to entrepreneurshipAs our nation’s military fighting men and women finish their tours overseas or approach retirement from a career defending our country, many are now turning to entrepreneurship as a way to bridge the gap to full-fledged retirement. Kristine and Chad Jenkins, owners of Georgia Self Storage LLC in Georgia, Vermont are a fine example.

Chad recently began approaching his retirement from the military after many years in uniform, and knew he was ready for a new challenge. The recently opened rental storage facility located not far from Interstate 89 Exit 18 at 198 Morse Drive was the answer.

“We are veteran-owned, and family-run,” Chad said. We provide safe and secure storage options. We have 24-hour gated access and many different sized units,” he said.

But before he could get the storage facility up and running, Chad knew he needed some assistance and began researching online for what resources are available to Vermont entrepreneurs. He soon came across Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) Area Advisor Steve Densham.  (more…)

The Free Resource Your Business Is Overlooking

By Gerri Detweiler

Free ResourceAmy Cantin and Larinda Rainwater had been travel agents for over 20 years. They loved helping their clients and were successful, but were finding themselves increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs at the travel agency where they were both employed. They knew the logical next step would be to open their own travel agency, but that prospect was intimidating.

“We knew how to sell travel but we didn’t know how to run a business,” says Cantin, echoing a common dilemma many would-be entrepreneurs face. “It was scary,” Rainwater adds.

Fortunately, a friend referred them to the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, where, for nearly a year, they worked with business consultant Robert Bahn to develop a plan for their business and prepare to go out on their own. They also hired an attorney who, among other things, made sure they didn’t take any client information with them, which could open them to legal action by their former employer.

Their planning paid off: starting with their grand opening (which Bahn attended), Jonesboro Travel Cruise and Tour was a success. “We turned our open sign on and from there it exploded,” says Cantin. “We have been so grateful,” says Rainwater, referring to both the reception from their community and the help they received from Bahn. Describing the services they received from their SBTDC, Rainwater says, “We can’t believe it’s free!”  (more…)

SBDCs Recognized in the United State Senate on SBDC Day

Statement in the Congressional Record
By Senators Jim Risch and Jeanne Shaheen
Chairman and Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committe on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, on behalf of myself and my colleague Senator Shaheen, I would like to recognize the contributions made to our nation and its small businesses by the good work of America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Ranking Member Shaheen and I understand the impact that boosting small businesses makes, with 99.7 percent of all firms across America being small businesses and their employees making up 48 percent of the total workforce.

America’s SBDCs provide small businesses across the country with high-quality, low- or no-cost consulting, and a variety of educational programs. These centers operate in all 50 States to support an established network of small businesses while encouraging new entrepreneurs to develop and execute their unique vision, helping innovators get their own small businesses up and running.

SBDCs are successful because they provide the services of a large consulting firm on a locally scaled level in areas that may go unnoticed by other programs. They provide tailored, individualized attention to over 450,000 entrepreneurs a year, which resulted in $6.9 billion in new sales in 2015. That same year, America’s Small Business Development Centers aided in the creation of over 100,000 jobs, and the small businesses they serve averaged a growth rate of 15.5 percent, which is nearly eight times the national average.

One of many success stories that can be told is that of Velma, a marketing software firm in Nampa, ID. Founded in 2006, the firm focused on empowering loan officers to create stronger relationships through a customized direct email program. The recession of 2008 hit Velma hard, and in 2010, the company entered into the SBDC business accelerator program. The structure of the program provided organizational discipline, and the firm pivoted to providing email marketing for mortgage companies. Since the firm began participating in the accelerator program, Velma has quadrupled its employees and created a sustained positive cash flow.

It is a privilege for my colleague and I to recognize SBDC Day today, March 22, 2017, and we wish them continued success as they work to support the next generation of America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, it is a privilege to join Chairman Risch as we celebrate the first ever Small Business Development Center Day, which will unite the more than 1,000 Small Business Development Centers, SBDCs, across the country with the hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs they have assisted in their 37-year history.  (more…)

A Father’s Invention and the Idaho SBDC Grow Healthier Crops

Isaacs Humigation

Blake Isaacs moved back to Idaho to help his father, Garry, grow his business based on an invention he patented nearly a decade ago. The humigator is a tool used for industrial air cleaning, but Garry’s breakthrough came when he realized its value in agriculture – particularly potato storage.

Isaacs HumigationThe humigator allows air to stay clean and potatoes moist, resulting in less plant disease, and since potatoes are sold by weight, supporting a higher sale price. Since its beginning in 2013, Isaacs Humigation Technology (IHT) has more than doubled its sales each year, with humigators now sold in seven states and Canada.

In July of 2016, Blake bought the business from his father, and with the help of the SBDC, recently secured angel investment to speed expansion and research. “Without the SBDC, we would not have had the funding opportunities, grant application support, and excellent referrals that have helped us grow this year. [The SBDC’s] resources are sophisticated enough for our tech business and accessible to anyone,” says Blake Issacs.

The SBDC continues to help IHT with feedback on marketing materials, expansion strategy, and funding options.

To learn more about Isaacs Humigation Technology, visit To learn more about the Idaho SBDC, visit

Turning Shipping Containers Into Restaurants

Shipping Container RestaurantSuccess Story: Long Beach, California

SteelCraft was born from developers Kimberly Gros and Martin Howard’s idea to re-purpose shipping containers from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as counter-service restaurant locations for local artisan food vendors. After more than two years in planning and development, SteelCraft has attracted eight businesses, which have generated more than 60 jobs in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach.

When Long Beach resident Kim Gros first visited the SBDC in 2014, she envisioned re-purposing a shipping container as a counter-service ice cream shop downtown. However, after reviewing projections with the SBDC, which included multiple vendors in one space as opposed to a single vendor, she quickly began to dream bigger.

Impact“The SBDC was a huge part of this success. They kept us dreaming,” said Gros. She re-imagined her vision to include several re-purposed containers that would convene the community through craft food and drinks. The SBDC then helped Kim with her financial projections, her lease agreements for her eight vendors, and assisted her in obtaining a loan for the project.

In addition, the SBDC consultants introduced her to several public officials who offered support and guidance along the way. “Kim had a winning attitude from the start. With a little guidance, she hit the ground running and didn’t stop. SteelCraft is a unique addition to the Bixby Knolls community and is sure to stimulate economic impact now and in years to come,” said Mike Daniel, Regional Director of the Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network, who consulted Gros.  (more…)