April 27, 2010

Operation Bootstrap adds orientation sessions

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- If owning your own business sounds appealing, the entrepreneurship team from Southern Illinois University Carbondale could be just what you need to make that dream come true.

Operation Bootstrap, the entrepreneurship program serving 16 Southern Illinois counties, is so popular in 2010 that the University’s entrepreneurship team is adding several new orientation sessions to the schedule. That assures that everyone considering signing up for the next session of the training program this summer can find out all about it and how they could qualify for free training and for grant funding.

The SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit pairs with the Delta Regional Authority to offer “Operation Bootstrap: Seeding Southern Illinois Start-ups” to unemployed or underemployed low- and moderate-income people. Each of the new May informational sessions includes a 30-minute presentation giving an overview of Operation Bootstrap. Those attending may also ask questions and if they want to pursue the training opportunity, they can complete a program application and interview.

The next session of Operation Bootstrap begins June 19 in Du Quoin with graduation set for Aug. 18. The 12-session training program provides participants with the skills they need to begin and sustain their own business. And, those successfully completing the whole program and creating business plans can compete for up to 15 seed capital grants of up to $3,000 each.

The program is open to those living in Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Pope, Johnson, Hardin, Union, Jackson, Williamson, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Gallatin and Saline counties. The first three rounds of Operation Bootstrap produced 102 graduates and interest is so strong this year, organizers have scheduled four new orientation overviews preceding the summer training program.

Here’s the schedule for the additional orientation sessions:

• Tuesday, May 4, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Du Quoin City Hall, 302 E Poplar St.

• Thursday, May 6, 9-10 a.m., Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road, Carbondale.

• Tuesday, May 11, 10-11 a.m., Franklin Hospital Conference Room, 201 Bailey Lane, Benton.

• Thursday, May 13, noon-1 p.m., Du Quoin City Hall, 302 E. Poplar Street. Participants can enjoy a free box lunch during this session only but must RSVP to 618/453-2070 no later than May 11 if planning to attend.

For more information about the Operation Bootstrap program or orientation sessions, contact the SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development at 618/453-2070 or e-mail startbiz@siu.edu, or visit the website at www.operationbootstrap.biz.