Business-minded students get more on-campus options

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isbdc_nc_bold_tag_highRes (3)By: RANDALL MOSSMAN
Staff Writer

Entrepreneurs on the IU South Bend campus now have a much closer and more convenient way to get their small businesses off of the ground.

The North Central division of the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) recently completed its move into the Administration Building, after having previously been hosted by the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce.

The North Central ISBDC branch is one of ten located throughout Indiana, and roughly 900 across the country, many of which are also hosted by universities. These centers offer entrepreneurs and small business owners one-on-one mentoring and various workshops, at no cost, aimed at helping the businesses get on their feet.

“We do everything from microprocessors to pet grooming,” said regional director Alan Steele. Since they have settled in, the ISBDC already have 10 current IUSB students as clients.

Steele said that the move to IUSB will benefit businesses. The North Central ISBDC branch serves five counties: St. Joseph, Marshall, Elkhart, Kosciusko and Fulton.

Steele said their previous host, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, may have put some people off by leading them to believe that it mainly served St. Joseph County. But he said IUSB and ISBDC would go hand-in-hand.

He points to the fact that IUSB is a regional campus that serves students from all over the area and wants his business to do the same.

“Universities are generally viewed in a very positive way,” Steele said. “The perception of us has become regional.”

Steele believes that by being located on a university campus, the business can use the resources of the university and more effectively connect with local businesses. He said the partnership also benefits IUSB by giving them an opportunity to be more active within the community.

The business has only been operating at full power at IUSB for a handful of months. From the time he was named to his position in 2014, until around the middle of 2015, Steele was the only representative for the ISBDC is the aforementioned five counties. But he quickly began tapping into the IUSB community when he was searching for employees. Steele himself, and most other employees are alumni of IUSB.

To become a successful entrepreneur, Steele believes that passion must align with a good business model. He thinks that the most successful small businesses are the people who start them out of a passion, and not just for the purpose of making money.

Steele quotes Steve Jobs to sum up his feelings by saying, “Follow your heart, but check it with your brain.”

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