LEWISTON, Idaho – The North Central Idaho Small Business Development Center at Lewis-Clark State College has received a $100,000 Portable Assistance Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to focus on growth and retention for small businesses in north central Idaho.
Barbra Leachman, director of the North Central Idaho SBDC, said the money will be used to fund new and existing positions with her office, which focuses on providing no-cost professional consulting for local businesses. The goal is to help these businesses, the Lewiston-area economy, and the job market thrive.
“This is a crucial time in North Central Idaho where the economy is changing and we want to connect with the businesses that need our resources to accelerate their business,” Leachman said.
Leachman has been the only full-time employee in the Lewiston office for eight years. She receives part-time help and has rural business consultants in Moscow, Orofino and Grangeville who are limited to around 10 hours a week. Because of the small staff, Leachman said the office has been backed up with appointments, forcing clients to wait up to a month to be able to meet with someone. The award will allow Leachman to add a business consultant position, which she hopes will be full-time with benefits.
Leachman said she became aware of the grant opportunity in September with a short turnaround for the application deadline. The application to the SBA had to be submitted by the Idaho SBDC office in Boise, which meant it had to be approved by both LC State and Boise State.
“Our proposal described our economic conditions resulting from diminished business and government operations,” Leachman said. “Idaho Region 2 has not experienced growth like many other places in Idaho. We have had small lumber mills close, overseas competition in the ammunition and paper sectors, retail store closings, and size reductions with the U.S. Forest Service. Kathryn Tacke, with Idaho Labor, was instrumental in providing us with documentation of jobs lost in manufacturing, health care, transportation, and government sectors. “
Leachman said once the application was in, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch played a key role in helping to obtain the grant. She said the senator’s staff visited the LC State offices in downtown Lewiston and are familiar with the services provided.
“This grant will be used to provide technical assistance to Lewiston’s small business community and, most importantly, create jobs.” said Risch, who is a high-ranking member on the Senate’s Small Business Committee. “The Idaho SBDC is a well-deserving award recipient and I’m proud to have worked with them to bring this resource home to Idaho.”
The SBA awarded 11 grants and Leachman said she anticipates the grant will be renewed for two more years.
So far this year, the North Central Idaho Small Business Development Center has helped with 13 business starts, 80 jobs created, $1.75 million in capital raised, and $3.5 million in sales growth, according to Leachman. She said the clients range from a single-person start-up business owner to companies with more than 100 employees who need manufacturing training.
The Idaho Small Business Development Center started in 1986 to help business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses through no-cost, confidential consulting and affordable business training. With six locations throughout the state, the Idaho SBDC serves 44 counties and is part of the nation’s largest business assistance programs covering all U.S. states and territories. In addition to consulting and training, the Idaho SBDC offers specialty programs in government contracting, technology commercialization, environmental regulations, exporting and cyber security.
To learn more about the North Central Idaho Small Business Development Center, visit www.lcsc.edu/sbdc.