FMU's Donald E. Kelley Small Business Institute expands
FLORENCE, S.C. – The Donald E. Kelley Small Business Institute at Francis Marion University is expanding its range of services to local business people in the Pee Dee area.
The institute, founded in 1972 and housed in FMU’s School of Business, offers technical assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations, free of charge.
The institute creates comprehensive business plans for its clients, who can then approach various financial sources with the information required for procuring funding. The business plans are developed by student work teams.
If a business plan is not needed, the institute can also offer an intern to help with various management functions for five hours per week over the course of a semester through its internship program.
The Small Business Institute also serves as a clearing house for clients who need specific research, marketing, technology, or accounting help, by directing them to other FMU professors who may have class projects to address those specific needs.
The expansion is made possible through an annual state appropriation of $350,000. The funds will enable the institute to increase its assistance to small businesses throughout the Pee Dee region.
“We will now be able to reach out more effectively to smaller communities,” said Dr. Joe Aniello, an FMU management professor and executive director of the institute. “We now have the resources to work in nine counties: Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter, and Williamsburg.”
The money will also allow the institute to function year-round, instead of just during the academic year. Additional staff, students, assistants, and adjunct faculty will be hired as necessary.
“In recent years we have been helping 10 to 15 businesses per year,” said Aniello. “We expect to more than double that number with this expansion.”
The funding will also allow research, training, and conference attendance.
A screening committee composed of FMU School of Business faculty members will evaluate applications by small businesses seeking the institute’s assistance. An advisory board made up of local business leaders and community members is also being formed.
“The expansion of the Donald E. Kelley Small Business Institute will be an asset to the entire Pee Dee region,” said FMU president Fred Carter. “Small businesses are vitally important to local economic development, and this institute will serve as a tremendous resource by providing a wide range of business planning services.”
Carter also praised legislators from the Pee Dee region who helped secure funding to support expansion of the small business institute.
One recent example of the institute’s success is the business incubator in Marion County. In 2002, a group of students did a successful feasibility study, followed by another group of students completing a business plan for the project in 2003. The recommendations were followed, and a location for the incubator has been selected and a director is in place.
“We want local people to approach us and take advantage of our services,” said Aniello. For more information, call 843-661-1112.
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