March 24, 1998

VSU welcomes Small Business Development Center

Local entrepreneurs looking to break into the world of business have a new resource from Valdosta State University.

The area Small Business Development Center, formerly operated by the University of Georgia, is now a service of VSU and its College of Business Administration.

"We're here to educate budding businesses," said Suzanne Barnett, area director and business consultant with the SBDC. "We're also an advocate and an educator for existing small businesses."

Barnett said the SBDC offers a range of services, all free or at a nominal charge, to businesses within an eight-county area. She and Jason Kelley, an SBDC business counselor, are available to help write business and marketing plans, address personnel issues and give advice on sound financial management.

The SBDC also offers a range of business seminars covering topics like advertising and sales promotion, taxes, mass merchandising secrets and visual merchandising basics. Courses on how to start your own business are offered at least twice a month.

"We get a lot of clients who have good ideas, but they need to know how to run a successful business," Kelley said. "The classes educate them in the requirements."

SBDC clients can also take advantage of "The Georgia 100." This special computer-based geographic information system provides extensive, location-specific demographic and statistical reports and maps to give a detailed view of the economic aspects of a community. "The Georgia 100" is especially useful in market feasibility studies, strategic planning and industrial recruitment.

Barnett said each business counseling case is different, but the single greatest need of every client is education. "And now, with VSU as our partner, we hope to bring our educational services to an even larger number of South Georgia business people," she said.

VSU's Small Business Development Center serves Lowndes, Brooks, Echols, Lanier, Clinch, Cook, Atkinson and Berrien counties.

There are 20 SBDC locations throughout Georgia. The program operates in partnership with the University of Georgia Business Outreach Services and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For more information on the VSU SBDC, call 245-3738.

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