Brief summer furlough

The North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center will close for a month this summer due to budget reductions.

Sequestration will result in an 8 percent reduction in federal funds to the state’s SBDC budget, according to Lisa Shimkat, regional director for north central Iowa.

That, coupled with what Shimkat describes as flat funding from the state, translates to a more than $11,000 reduction in the local budget, she said.

Precise dates of closure have yet to be determined.

“I believe it will be from mid-June until mid-July,” Shimkat said.

The SBDC provides business expertise and one-on-one counseling, and training focuses on specific business needs including new business guidance, business planning and modeling, loan proposal assistance and succession and growth strategies. The agency operates 15 regional centers throughout the state.

Since Oct. 1, 2012, North Central Iowa SBDC, which serves a 10-county region, has helped businesses secure $4.1 million in loans, according to Shimkat.

“We’ve helped create 20 new businesses and provided counseling to 168 clients,” she said. “We have the highest number of counseling hours in the state as well as the second number of clients served.”

In total, businesses who’ve worked with the SBDC have seen sales increases of $12.5 million in the time period, according to Shimkat.

“Approximately 75 percent of our clients are existing businesses,” she said. “We have been very busy with expansions and marketing plans and initiatives for clients.”

In light of these developments, Shimkat said, the funding setback is frustrating – though by no means devastating.

Prior to the furlough, Shimkat said that the office will work to expedite services to all existing clients who may be dealing with time-sensitive issues – loan applications, for example.

“We’re going to continue to do our best with what we have,” she said.