||Does Oakland County have support services for its small business community?|
Yes, it does through the Oakland County Business Center – MI-SBTDC which focuses on assisting small for profit businesses. Ninety eight (98) percent of all businesses in Oakland County are defined as small businesses employing fewer than 500 people. The Oakland County Business Center has been helping people start, manage and grow their small businesses since 1985.
||Does Oakland County fund the Oakland County Business Center?|
Yes, funding is primarily from the Oakland County general fund but is supplemented by federal and state funds. Up until October 13, 2009 the Oakland County Business Center was a standalone entity and funded strictly through the Oakland County general fund. Effective October 14, 2009 when it joined the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) network it started receiving additional funding indirectly through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Funds have provided for additional consultants and continuing education during a period when Oakland County has experienced hiring and wage freezes.
The Oakland County Business Center (MI-SBTDC) is now an integral part of Michigan's most comprehensive small business assistance network.
||Do the types of services the Oakland County Business Center provides to its small businesses compliment and enhance what they can|
find in the private sector?
Most definitely and in a lot of instances superior even though we do not compete with the private sector. The Oakland County Business Center - MI-SBTDC staff consultants are mainly recruited from the private sector and have hands on small business experience and varied functional expertise including brand management, marketing, finance, human resources and accounting. The four core business services we offer are customized business counseling/coaching
, education, information based planning and technology commercialization
. The business counseling/coaching services are no charge because they are covered by tax payer funds. Our workshops range from low to no cost with collected funds going toward defraying the cost of materials, food and beverages, subject matter experts who teach the workshops and other workshop related items. Information based planning includes secondary market research, GIS and SEO services. We also vet and make advanced technology company referrals to Automation Alley and the Oakland University Incubator.
Experienced business consultants are available by appointment to help clients with financial management strategies including cash flow budgeting and loan preparation, market diversification and refining their business and/or marketing plans. These consultants are also available to trouble shoot other business related concerns. Small for profit businesses interested in this no charge confidential service, can engage us by completing our online request
In addition to business counseling and training services, the Oakland County Business Center offers a variety of business planning tools
on its website. Examples include the simple guide to buying and selling a small business, SBA format monthly cash flow projection templates, marketing and business plan formats.
||Is Oakland County proactively working to inform small businesses about the services available through the County?|
Yes! We are rapidly changing this fact through increased awareness and collaboration with a number of different Oakland County partner organizations, social media vehicles and especially through the Business Assistance Team
(BAT) concept. The BAT is an Oakland County initiative that dates back to 2003 and is modeled after an SBA program promoted along the Woodward corridor. The BAT involves a group of experienced volunteer members who help existing businesses resolve issues and generate new ideas.
BATs are coordinated visits to small business owners in Oakland County communities. The group members include an Oakland County Business Consultant, Banker, Chamber of Commerce, City, Downtown Development Authority and Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) personnel. As a small business owner you should contact one of the aforementioned stakeholder groups in your community to encourage them to set one up.
||How is the performance of our small business consultants measured?|
Our business consultants are measured by key economic impact goals provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA). These economic impact goals include capital formation, jobs created and retained, business starts and number of clients served.
In 2011, total capital formation received on behalf of our Oakland County clients was $8.5 million versus our goal of $8 million. With our business consultants’ assistance, Oakland County small business clients were able to secure this amount through loans and investments received. A total of 102 small business workshops were held in 2011 attracting 1,137 attendees.
2011 workshop attendance is up six and one half (6.5) percent over the previous year. Even more impressive is our total number of clients served at 1938. This number includes service inquiries (phone, email and walk-ins), clients counseled and workshop attendees. Our workshops are educational in nature and cover topics from business research, how to start your business, how to write your business plan, the fundamentals of marketing to how to prepare for a lender. Our workshops serve as an efficient way to reach a larger audience and educate them prior to meeting one-on-one with a business consultant.
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