April 02, 2010

‘Operation Bootstrap’ offers business training

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Round four of the popular and successful Operation Bootstrap, a training program from the Southern Illinois University Carbondale entrepreneurship team, is kicking off soon.

The program is open to aspiring and new business owners in the southern 16 counties of Illinois. Already 102 graduates from the first three classes are reaping the benefits of the business-training program. The SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit and the Delta Regional Authority provide the training for “Operation Bootstrap: Seeding Southern Illinois Start-ups” to unemployed or underemployed low- and moderate-income residents in the Illinois Delta counties.

A new class session will begin in June. However, all who are interested in the intensive, 12-session program must attend an orientation session, which provides information about how the program works and all of the requirements.

Here’s the schedule for the orientation sessions:

• April 10, 1-2 p.m., Du Quoin City Hall, 302 E. Poplar St.

• April 13, 4:30-5:30 p.m., SIUC Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road, Carbondale.

• April 21, 2:30-3:30 p.m., SIUC Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road, Carbondale. The Illinois Small Business Development Center is sponsoring a free workshop, “Finding Financing,” that will immediately follow this training session and participants are welcome to attend.

“SIU is so proud to be able to offer this training again. Our successes tell the Operation Bootstrap story best. Take a look at our Web site, www.operationbootstrap.biz, and see the results. These new business owners are hard working, inspired and determined to make a living for themselves and make a difference in Southern Illinois. With very little start-up costs, these entrepreneurs are bootstrapping their way into successful business ventures,” said Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade at SIUC.

The program is open to residents of Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Pope, Johnson, Hardin, Union, Jackson, Williamson, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Gallatin and Saline counties. It gives them all of the tools to help them start their own business or formalize a business they already have. The program is beneficial to entrepreneurs of all kinds, whether they are starting a small downtown business or planning a high-growth, global operation. There’s no cost to participate.

And, in addition to gaining vital information and assistance, graduates of the program are also eligible to compete for monies to help them start their new businesses. Those completing the program and developing individual business plans will vie for competitive grant awards of up $3,000. As many as 15 participants could earn funds to help them launch their businesses and create new jobs in Southern Illinois.

Operation Bootstrap 4 kicks off June 19 with an intensive “blast class” incorporating the first four sessions. Classes continue the next eight weeks running from 3-6 p.m. each Wednesday. The class meets at the Man-Tra-Con Family Opportunity Center in Du Quoin.

For more information about Operation Bootstrap or the SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development, call 618/453-2070 or e-mail startbiz@siu.edu.