Hidden Cleveland: TSBDC is still a big hit in business community
by WILLIAM WRIGHT Lifestyles Editor
May 12, 2014 | 719 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GROWING SMALL BUSINESSES and helping entrepreneurs and individuals with innovative new ideas and services is the mission of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State. From left are Jennie DeCook, Lisa Janes, David Hudson and Robert Hotchkiss. Contributed photo
GROWING SMALL BUSINESSES and helping entrepreneurs and individuals with innovative new ideas and services is the mission of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State. From left are Jennie DeCook, Lisa Janes, David Hudson and Robert Hotchkiss. Contributed photo
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With 1,346 new clients seen and 716 new jobs created by those clients who infused more than $39.6 million into Cleveland’s working community over the past three years, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College has been empowering small business owners to compete in a global marketplace.

The network of certified business counselors are experienced professionals who understand the business community, know how to gauge the economic climate of their areas and can navigate a course of success.

David Hudson, director of the TSBDC in Cleveland, said the agency is dedicated to helping any and all entrepreneurs realize their dream of starting a new business.

“We will not only give you the information you need to get your business up and running, we will stay with you and help it grow,” he said. “All of the services we provide are at no cost, and all business information is kept in the strictest confidence.”

Hudson, who has a master’s in business administration from Tulane University of Colorado, worked 10 years for Dole, the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables. He was the manager of operations in Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Philippines. “I also ran a $50 million brewery and Coca-Cola franchise in Honduras as the general manager there,” he said. “I went from there to the Philippines, then from the Philippines to Ecuador as operations manager there.”

Upon returning to the states to be with their two sons who are now in medical and law school, Hudson started four different automotive repair businesses. Now that he is the director of TSBDC, Hudson said he and his staff are prepared to offer their advice and resources to anyone interested in starting their own business.

Having experience working for Fortune 500 companies, Lisa Janes is more than qualified to help develop marketing and business plans. The training provided by GlaxoSmithKline and Avon Products allowed Janes to become a top sales and marketing person, achieving the highest awards at both companies as well as joining the top 1 percent of real estate agents in Collier County, Fla. When it comes to teaching others how to be successful, Janes is a seasoned professional.

“My teaching and training background is a great combination to help small business owners,” said Janes, who has a master’s degree from Michigan State University. “Small business owners thrive after working with the SBDC. My family has owned several small businesses and has been very successful over the years.”

Jennie DeCook, a transplant from Florida and former court reporter, began a new career in residential real estate sales. Following the collapse of the housing market in 2008, she returned to college to finish her bachelor’s degree, graduating summa cum laude in 2010. In early 2011, DeCook began working at the Small Business Development Center as the Information Processing Specialist.

Her expertise in sales, marketing, legal matters and small business experience gives her a unique perspective and rapport with the center’s clients. DeCook has worked on expanding her own small business, Kilnfused Art Glass, volunteered at the Museum Center at Five Points, and began working part time for the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation. She is also currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Robert Hotchkiss, a former president and chief operating officer at the Genoa Banking company in Genoa, Ohio, was responsible for increasing the bank’s assets from $12 million to $80 million in 14 years, from 1978 to 1992.

Hotchkiss, who has a bachelor of arts in business administration, brings a wealth of experience and ingenuity to TSBDC. While president, he served as a state director of the Community Bankers Association and as the national director to the Independent Bankers Association located in Washington, D.C.

After more than 50 years in Ohio, Hotchkiss said he “fell in love” with Tennessee and decided to move to here in 2004, after spending considerable time in The Volunteer State while working for affordable housing in five states.

This collective team of successful professionals said they are ready, willing and able to assist small businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals with new ideas, strategies, confidential counseling, training seminars and presentations so that they can achieve their dream of becoming successful business owners.

Hudson, who took four years of French and is fluent in Spanish, said, “We enjoy helping people start businesses, and our goal is to help you succeed.”

For further information about the Small Business Development Center, call 423-478-6247 or send emails to: jdecook@tsbdc.org.