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Business center hunts for funding

Federal money cut due to budget crisis

Posted: August 26, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2009 4:30 a.m.

In the midst of the state’s budget crunch, local business consultants are moving fast to find funding to hold onto matching federal dollars.

The Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons receives about 15 percent of its annual budget from the state’s Community College Chancellor’s Office, said Steve Tannehill, executive director of the center. That money is in turn bolstered by matching federal funds.

As lawmakers have struggled to balance California’s budget, the budget for the state’s more than 30 development centers — about $3 million total — was cut by about 30 percent.

“The state has always been a critical piece,” he said Wednesday. “We effectively lost close to 10 percent of our funding.”

The local development center has about 10 sponsors in addition to the state and federal government, he said.

The Small Business Development Center offers counseling and training classes for business owners. By the end of July, the center had helped more than 400 clients this year, Tannehill said.

He noted that some centers in Northern California receive about 25 percent of their funding from the state.

With dollars cut, Tannehill said he is on the hunt for more sponsors to fill the gap and ensure matching federal funds are not lost.

Now, more than ever, it seems, the center needs to stay healthily funded — Tannehill said there has been a spike in startup businesses locally, as well as an influx to the center of existing business owners who are suffering and need help.

Some changes may have to be made to how the center operates.

“We are looking at the budget,” he said. “We’ll probably have to start managing (more tightly) our consultant hours.”

So far, Tannehill said, the center has been open to meeting with any qualified clients. In September, he said the process will likely require a tightened schedule, which can mean being put on a waiting list or choosing to take a training class.

The bright side, he said, is that the center hosted by COC has more sponsors than most centers in California, meaning there is less reliance on state dollars.


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