Robert Hotchkiss, Lisa Janes, and Chapin Miller were recently hired as a part of the new grant.
The Small Business Jobs Act was signed into law on Sept. 27, 2010, by President Barack Obama and provides critical resources to help small businesses continue to drive economic recovery and create jobs.
According to the SBA, the new law extended the SBA enhanced loan provisions while offering billions more in lending, support, tax cuts, and other opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
“The state of Tennessee was awarded almost a $1 million grant from the Jobs Act Bill, and our TSBDC at Cleveland State was fortunate enough to receive part of this grant,” said Brenda Sheehy, director of the SBDC. “This is a separate grant that will be for a 24-month time frame and will end in February of 2013. Because of the great growth in the community and because of the unprecedented growth of the local center, SBDC recently moved from seventh to third in the state under Knoxville, first, and Memphis, second.
“This new grant allows us to now reach out to our greater rural areas included, but not limited to Polk, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe and Bradley counties. However, this grant also permits us to go to any geographical area where we are needed,” Sheehy said.
According to Sheehy, so far for 2011, the center has seen 202 clients, completed 538 counseling hours, created 107 jobs, retained 115 jobs, and clients have secured seven SBA loans and six non-SBA loans totaling $4,188,400.
The center is ranked third in the state for total cases and total hours and ranked first in the state for job creation, job retention, and capital infusion.
“I feel very privileged to have these counselors on board because they round out the skills sets of our team, so that now our center is truly a full service center. Every single contact at the SBDC has been an entrepreneur and can better understand what our clients are going through because we’ve all been there,” Sheehy said.
Hotchkiss received his bachelor’s in business administration from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Prior to receiving the counselor’s position, Hotchkiss was a loan officer for Bright-Bridge Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists small companies in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. He was responsible for managing two USDA funded loans for Tennessee and Georgia and was recently awarded a loan fund from the city of Chattanooga for $2.3 million that he is also responsible for managing.
“I’m looking forward to taking some of my experience and being able to help small businesses,” Hotchkiss said.
Janes received her bachelor’s in marketing/merchandising from Central Michigan University and a master’s of science in merchandising/management from Michigan State University. Prior to receiving the counselor’s position, Janes was a broker associate with Sun Realty/Coldwell Banker. While there, she earned broker associate, ABR, CDPE, and CRS designations and was in the top 1 percent of Realtors® in Collier County, Fla.
“I’m very passionate about sales and marketing,” Janes said. “I wanted to take my skill sets to help other businesses become successful. I really enjoy helping customers figure out their target market and how to brand themselves.”
Miller received his bachelor’s of science in business and economics from Tennessee Wesleyan College and is also earned degrees from the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University and the Commercial Lending School at Darden School.
Prior to receiving the counselor position, Miller was vice president for commercial lender of Northwest Georgia Bank. He was responsible for spearheading the entrance of Northwest Georgia Bank into the Chattanooga market and developed commercial lending relationships and managed a $24 million loan portfolio.
“All of my career has been in banking, specifically working with smaller businesses,” MIller said. “I feel like I’m going to be able to have a more ‘hands-on’ approach with this than I did in banking, so I’m looking forward to that.”
“With these new counselors, I’m really looking forward to reaching out and helping more businesses and the end result will be economic development,” Sheehy said. “Our goal is to help small business owners with existing businesses in terms of increasing their revenues, and for those who want to start a business, we are interested in getting them up and running and helping them start their business. All of this results in job creation, job retention, and capital formation.”
Sheehy went on to add that the flexibility of the office hours allows the counselors to serve customers on an “as needed” basis. Although the SBDC works primarily through the Chambers of Commerce, the counselors will also come to client sites, as well.
“We at the SBDC are so grateful to Dr. Hite and Cleveland State, the city officials, and the Chamber. Without their tremendous support, we would not be able to do what we do,” Sheehy said. “Our wonderful community has really allowed us to flourish and thrive, and that is why we are doing so well. They have really created an entrepreneurial environment. To celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of the community, the SBDC will be sponsoring our annual Rising Star Award Luncheon in August and we hope that many people from the community will be able to attend this year.”