May 06, 2020

SIU’s Small Business Development Center is sponsoring a series of May webinars

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is sponsoring three free special online webinars this month. Each webinar is designed to help businesses in different ways.

Starting a Business

“Starting Your Business in Illinois” will be online from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12. The session will cover everything you need to know when considering starting your own business or expanding an existing business.

Topics presented by SBDC advisers will include:

  • Writing a business plan.
  • Selecting a business name and securing licenses and permits.
  • Establishing legal structure.
  • Securing financing.

Register for free in advance at

Social Media Restaurant Marketing

Nationally known marketing strategist and speaker Bruce Irving will be the guest speaker at the “Social Media Marketing for Restaurants” webinar set for 10-11 a.m. on May 13. Research shows there are benefits of social media marketing for local businesses and having the right strategies in place can improve sales and create positive connections and conversations in a cost-effective way. Irving is the founder of Irving Media Group LLC, an agency that works to help local businesses bring in more customers and spend less time and money marketing.

Irving will share information on the best social media platforms to use for reaching customers and what types of content are most effective on various platforms. He will also discuss how to build engagement, attract customers and increase revenue by thinking outside the box.

Sign up online at no cost to participate:

Retail recovery

The final webinar, “Retail Recovery Workshop: How to Create a Healthy and Positive Customer Experience” is an hour-long program at 10 a.m. on May 21. As retailers begin reopening once the pandemic stay-in-place restrictions ease, the goal is to help them market their reopening and create a feeling of safety and confidence in their customers to generate sales.

Guest speakers include Lynn Falk and Suzanne Rafenstein, who each have more than 35 years of experience with the retail industry and are well-known for their retail psychology expertise. They will cover a wide variety of topics including:

  • Training and motivating staff.
  • Cleaning protocols and restocking inventories, working with supplies and vendors, preparing for customer reactions to the virus.
  • Incorporating helpful signage, mobile checkout and pickup kiosks.
  • Keeping the public informed.
  • The importance of creating a welcoming experience and offering strong customer service, presenting a positive environment and remaining upbeat.

Register in advance at no cost at

Valuable information

The pandemic has caused difficulties for businesses in recent months and these webinars offer a wealth of information to help, according to Greg Bouhl, SIU director of entrepreneurship and business development.

“These webinars are going to be really good and very helpful to businesses in Southern Illinois,” he said.

For more information about any of the webinars, the Small Business Development Center or any of the many services it provides to businesses and entrepreneurs, visit the website at or call 618/453-2424 or email