Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TOP STORY >> Cabot offers small businesses help

Leader staff writer

A free service now offered at Cabot City Hall for startup and existing small-business owners could help them avoid the pitfalls that lead to failure.

John Twyford, a consultant working for the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s College of Business, said this week that the ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. Thursday at city hall will mark the official opening, but he already has several clients in the area.

“Lack of planning is the reason most businesses get into trouble,” Twyford said.

Add to that the lack of management and business experience, the lack of money and a bad location, and it’s easy to see why many small businesses no longer exist after five years, he said.

He can help with all those issues, Twyford said, adding that he wants small business owners to think of him as their chief financial officer on loan from the ASBTDC.

But he said, “I also sometimes call myself the business doctor because I do make house calls.” The service is made available through the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center’s Startup Arkansas project made possible by the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

Gwen Green, communication coordinator for ASBTDC, said the act recognizes the importance of helping small businesses to create jobs and improve the economy.

A big part of what Twyford will do for small-business owners is to help them prepare the business plans they will need to get loans, she said.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said he wants the city to become involved by making space available at city hall for Twyford to schedule appointments because so many small- business owners don’t understand the basics of running a business such as collecting sales tax.

Cypert’s proposed budget for 2012 shows virtually no increase in revenue despite an increase in new businesses.

The simple explanation for the contradiction, he said after introducing his budget last week is that many businesses are also closing.

Billye Everett, director of Cabot Chamber of Commerce, said the new service grew out of the chambers’ economic development committee, headed by local banker Gary McMillan.

Everett moved to Cabot from Pearland, Texas, where she was the president and CEO of the local chamber of commerce and got help for businesses from that state’s small business agency.

“It worked for me in Texas,” she said, but she added that the services now offered in Cabot are more than she hoped for.

Not only is help available for existing and startup businesses, Everett said she thinks if more businesses could locate in Cabot because the service is available.

A press release from the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and ASBTDC said the services available include financial planning, marketing, loan packaging and management issues.

Twyford’s territory is made up of Lonoke, White, Pulaski, Saline and Faulkner counties.

To schedule appointments contact Twyford at jstwyford@ualr.edu or 501-683-7700.