Rend Lake College continues its commitment to helping small businesses get off the ground and stimulate the economy. RLC’s Small Business Development Center, housed at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon, has helped area businesses obtain more than $6.3 million in loans and assistance since July 2003.

The Small Business Development Center helps businesses in start-ups, expansions and purchases and can assist in registering businesses. SBDC services are available to clients at no charge or for a nominal fee, based on the extent of services required and the availability of resources. Owners and managers of small businesses or anyone considering starting a business in Illinois may become an SBDC client.

According to information compiled by Curt Mowrer, Executive Director of the SBDC, in addition to loans and equity capital obtained by SBDC clients since July 1, 2003, 26 jobs have been created by clients and 67 jobs have been retained.

Following is a sampling of businesses the Small Business Development Center was able to assist:

**Soylutions Inc. -- This McLeansboro business was started in 1999 under the direction of two successful farmers, Kenny Lasater and Roger Swartz. They have purchased the Consolidated Coal Mine just outside of McLeansboro with intent to reclaim the property and use it as a commercial storage and operations complex. Lasater and Swartz approached the SBDC to develop a business plan to assist in acquiring funding for the project. This ongoing endeavor eventually could employ more than 125 people.

**Bruce Kellerman and Sons Seamless Guttering -- Chris Kellerman offered to sell his business, established in 2001, to his brother Bruce. RLC’s Small Business Development Center helped develop a loan package which included a comprehensive business plan. Kellerman and Sons provides and installs seamless guttering and offers gutter cleaning in the Pinckneyville area.

**The Travel Company -- Lisa Ellis purchased this premier Mt. Vernon travel agency, located at Times Square Mall, in 2003. Like many other SBDC clients, Ellis received assistance with her business plan and loan package.

**The Furniture Medic -- Robert and Donna Watt of Mt. Vernon operate this franchise furniture repair service which specializes in precision repair of furniture and other wood surfaces at the customer’s location. The Watts also received planning and loan assistance from SBDC. Furniture Medic has more than 600 locations operating nationwide.

**George Smith AG Service Inc. -- This business began as a family-owned retail farm supply and custom application service and has operated for more than 38 years. It has continued to grow from its humble beginnings and now has 25 full-time and 10 seasonal employees.

**Shelby’s Place -- The SBDC also provided assistance to this business, a child development center for children ages six weeks to 12 years, located in Waltonville. This center will fill a void as there is no day care available in that immediate area. Construction is expected to begin soon.

RLC’s Small Business Development Center works with Southern Illinois’ various economic development agencies in helping its clients.

The SBDC and Rend Lake College’s Center for Business Services provide assistance to all sectors of the local business community. Working together, these two entities help with business start-ups, expansions and problems, while providing customized training programs, consultations and economic development assistance to larger industries.

Seminars and workshops are held throughout the year, furnishing timely information on business planning, marketing, management, tax preparation, accounting procedures and economic development. One-day workshops can assist businesses in developing and maintaining Web sites, bookkeeping and accounting and management.

For more information on the Small Business Development Center or to schedule an appointment, contact Mowrer at (618) 242-5813, or e-mail to .

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