November 26, 2008

Partnership offers business training program

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is partnering with the Delta Regional Authority to offer a new business training program for low- to moderate-income residents in the state’s 16 Delta counties.

Operation Bootstrap: Seeding Southern Illinois Start-Ups, is an intensive nine-week business training program for people residing in Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Pope, Johnson, Hardin, Union, Jackson, Williamson, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Gallatin and Saline counties who want to start their own businesses or formalize a business they are already operating.

Sponsored through the SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit, the program works with entrepreneurs of all kinds -- from those interested in starting a small business on Main Street to those with plans for a high-growth global operation. Those who successfully complete the Operation Bootstrap program and develop a business plan are eligible to compete for $3,500 in start-up funding to get their new business operational.

“This program, funded through the Delta Regional Authority, will train people to run businesses and put money in their hands to help them do just that,” said Robyn Laur Russell, SIUC director of business development and international trade. “We are excited because, to our knowledge, this is the only program in Southern Illinois that will allow us to give seed grant funding directly to individuals to start their own business.”

The program kicks off with a series of orientation sessions at various locations during December. During the half-hour sessions, interested individuals will learn about the program, ask questions, and even apply to participate in the program, securing a spot in the first round of training. Operation Bootstrap’s first business training classes are set to begin in January 2009 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center in Carbondale. Classes in Du Quoin will start in April 2009.

Here is the schedule for orientation sessions:

• Dec. 2 at 4:30 p.m., Dunn-Richmond Center, Carbondale.

• Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m., Attucks Community Center, Carbondale.

• Dec. 4 at 2 p.m., University of Illinois Extension Center, Murphysboro.

• Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m., Pulaski County Business Center in Mounds.

• Dec. 16 at 3 p.m., Shawnee Community College Extension office in Anna.

• Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m., University of Illinois Extension Center, Vienna.

Kim Sanders, assistant director for entrepreneurship and business development, is coordinator for the Operation Bootstrap Program with Anja Meksem, entrepreneurship specialist, as assistant coordinator. For more information or to let organizers know you’re planning to attend, or, if you’re interested in this new program but can’t attend any of the scheduled orientation sessions, call 618/453-2070 or e-mail