JOLIET – State budgets constraints affecting Joliet Junior College have led to the closing of its Small Business Development Center – but other options to help entrepreneurs will still be available.
Amy Murphy, the college’s corporate and community services director, was informed in May that the center would not receive any more funds until the state had a budget, according to JJC. Murphy is the director of the center.
For just under a year, Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers have been in a stalemate over approval of a new budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2015 – and ends June 30 of this year.
The center will be closed June 30 after being open for 30 years.
“We’re just very saddened by it. We wish the state would have come together and put a budget together. … It’s hurting the business community is what it’s hurting,” Murphy said.
The development center is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, with funds through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, JJC officials said.
When JJC board trustees approved a budget last week, college officials noted the closing of the center as part of several cost-saving measures to create a balanced budget. Uncertainty with state funding has led the college to form a committee to find ways to generate revenue.
Murphy said the center offered free services to help people start up their own businesses and expand those businesses when needed. According to the center’s website, it counsels almost 600 small businesses and entrepreneurial clients a year.
Some of its services included counseling, consulting and training for clients.
The center closing will impact on the local economy, Murphy said, but the college has a partnership with Service Corps of Retired Executives – or SCORE – and can direct clients to the College of DuPage’s still-active business development center, if needed.
Other options for clients are the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Governors State University and the Women’s Business Development Center in Aurora.
Some of the past successes of JJC’s Small Business Development Center included Bolingbrook business Hip Hop Fit, LuNajera Kitchen & Catering in Plainfield and Candace Learning Center in Minooka, according to the center’s website.
Murphy said other colleges and universities that are closing small-business centers include Waubonsee Community College and Illinois State University.