July 24, 2015

Workshop offers business transition assistance

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Helping family businesses and other closely owned enterprises continue to be successful during and after a change in ownership is the focus of an upcoming event at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The Transition Planning Workshop is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 11 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, located at 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. Steve Barnhart, business transition adviser for the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), will be the guest speaker. 

Organizers note that fewer than 40 percent of businesses successfully orchestrate a change in management from one generation to the next. This workshop covers various components of a company transition, including workforce management, family governance and key issues involved in changing company leadership. 

“Business transition has a lot of moving parts and often involves some highly emotional issues as well. Because of these factors, many business owners struggle getting started in the planning process. However, once they start the process, they discover the many benefits of doing so. And we’re here to help them do that,” Barnhart said. 

Barnhart worked as a general manager for an Illinois food processor for eight years, during which time he received IMEC assistance on several projects that helped advance the business. He said after seeing how beneficial outside assistance can be, it inspired him to do that for others in his current role. During the August workshop, he will provide tools and resources to help increase the likelihood of a successful ownership/management changeover for family owned or closely held businesses. 

“Baby boomers are a very entrepreneurial group, having started more companies than any other generation,” according to Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade at SIU. 

She said the loss of a small business affects not only the obvious revenue and jobs it generated, but the damage is also compounded when the products and services the business provided are no longer readily available to that community, whether the company had a local or global reach. 

“The assets that exist in these businesses are monumental to our economy and the last thing we want them to do is close their doors. This workshop will explain the steps necessary to successfully transition out of your business and into your retirement in the most fiscally sound manner,” Russell said. “It is estimated that 65 to 75 percent of the small companies in the U.S -- some 10 million -- will likely hang up a ‘for sale’ sign during the next 5-10 years. That’s huge! Our business development team wants to do everything we can to help assure that even through a change in ownership, those businesses remain viable enterprises, contributing to the Southern Illinois economy.” 

The event wraps up with a noon luncheon for participants. Although there is no cost to attend, seating is limited and registration required no later than Aug. 5. To sign up, call 618/453-4042 or register online at www.imec.org/Events.cfm.   

Events sponsors include SIU’s Office of Economic and Regional Development and its Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center.  

In addition, interested individuals can schedule a free 15-minute, one-on-one consultation session with a family business adviser immediately following the workshop. All personalized consultations must be scheduled in advance by calling 618/453-4042. 

The Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and hosted by SIU. 

To learn more about the center and the numerous services it provides to new and growing businesses, visit www.sbdc.siu.edu or contact Robyn Laur Russell at rrussell@biz.siu.edu or by calling 618/536-2424.