Wake-up Call: Small Business Development Center creates jobs

SBDC clients reported more than $1.9 million in increased sales

University Park, Pa. -- Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had trouble falling asleep again? A SleepPhone could be music to your ears. Family physician Wei-Shin Lai invented the SleepPhone to help her fall asleep after late night calls from patients and hospitals. She wanted to listen to soothing sounds to relax, but could not find a pair of headphones that were comfortable to wear as she slept. She and her significant other, Jason Wolfe, solved the problem by creating headphones embedded in a fleece headband. After they launched a business to sell the SleepPhone, the pair realized they could benefit from the free assistance offered by the experts at the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

"Working with the SBDC has been very helpful to our small business success," Wei-Shin said.

This is just one example of how the SBDC, which provides one-on-one consulting and seminars to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Centre and Mifflin counties, has helped a new business to start. The center consulted with 479 clients and helped 14 new businesses to start in the first half of 2009. With SBDC assistance, at least 44 new jobs were created, and clients reported more than $1.9 million in increased sales. One-on-one consulting is provided free of charge.

Energy and environmental issues also are a big focus of the SBDC, with its Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP). For example, Suzanne Myers, owner of Myers' Stables, and her husband Glenn Myers, developed Myers Premium Wood Shavings after Suzanne was having difficulty finding suitable bedding for her horses. With the Penn State SBDC’s help, they purchased a shaving mill and launched their wood shaving mill business to create shavings for their horses in-house and sell what they didn’t need to other stables and dairy farmers. With EMAP’s help, the Myers made sure that they addressed regulatory issues.

“Without the help of the SBDC, we would not have realized our goals,” said Glenn.

“We help small businesses to start, grow, and prosper, which creates increased tax revenues for the state and federal governments," said Heather Fennessey, Penn State SBDC director.

Penn State's SBDC is part of a nationwide network of more than 1,000 centers. The Penn State SBDC provides free business assistance to small firms and business start-ups in Centre and Mifflin counties, enabling them to compete and grow in today’s highly competitive global economy. For more information, visit http://www.sbdc.psu.edu/ online. Penn State SBDC is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education.

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Last Updated July 23, 2009