TTU's Small Business Development Center awarded $20,000 grant

Rural Development Area Director Joseph Woody and Tennessee Technological University President Bob Bell today announced a Rural Business and Enterprise Grant (RBEG) of $20,000 for the purchase of computer equipment and software to increases in-house educational and distance learning opportunities through TTU College of Business and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The announcement was made at the SBDC on TTU’s main campus.

“Rural businesses, regardless of location, can now use Internet technology to reach a much broader customer base and effectively compete in the world market,” said Bell. “The small business development resources announced today will make it possible for TTU to help grow businesses and create good jobs all across our area.”

The $20,000 federal investment completes the funding needed to bring the new business development program online. TTU is providing $64,400 and the SBDC an additional $55,200 for a total project investment of $139,600. Increased training opportunities will initially be available to businesses at a specially equipped classroom on the TTU campus in Cookeville. Plans are also in the works to equip two remote learning locations to help businesses take advantage of SBDC resources while minimizing time away from their business and the high costs of fuel.

“Small business is the economic engine of our rural communities,” said Woody. “Rural Development is here to make sure rural companies have the same kinds of resources and opportunities as those in urban areas so they can continue to create jobs and prosper.”

TSBDC helps business owners and entrepreneurs grow and develop successful businesses through one-on-one counseling and free or low cost training. The TSBDC at TTU is an outreach service of TTU College of Business serving businesses in 13 Middle Tennessee Counties including Clay, Pickett, Fentress, Overton, Jackson, Smith, Putnam, Cumberland, White, DeKalb, Warren, Van Buren and Bledsoe.

Established in 1999, TTU-SBDC has worked with local chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, private lenders and others to meet the needs of small business owners in the 13 county service area. Already in the current program year, the SBDC has helped new businesses acquire over $250,000 in start-up capital from sources like the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency and Small Business Association.

Rural Development’s rural business enterprise grant program provides assistance to public or not-for-profit entities to support community economic development programs that assist small businesses in developing local business infrastructure, providing job training, conducting feasibility studies and providing technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.

Others participating in the event were TTU Associate VP for Research and Graduate Affairs Dr. Francis O. Otuonye, Interim Dean TTU College of Business Mark Stephens, TTU Small Business Development Center Vicki Henley, TTU Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Jack Armistead, Rep. Bart Gordon’s Representative Billy Smith, Rep. Lincoln Davis’ Representative John Robbins, and RD area staff Jimmy Allen, Alice Wills and Chris Hampton.

USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities in Tennessee by investing financial and technical assistance through housing, community and business development programs. In Fiscal Year 2007 Rural Development assisted at least 600,000 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $308 million in financial resources including loans, loan guarantees and grants.

For more information on the business development, homeownership or community infrastructure programs available in the Upper Cumberland area, contact the Rural Development Area Office in Cookeville at 931-528-6539 or toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1493. Information is also available online at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.

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