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WIU receives federal funding for small business succession program

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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Campus received federal funding to help small businesses plan for the future.

The university’s Small Business Development Center received $400,000 to help owners who may want to pass on their businesses.

Congresswomen Cheri Bustos, D- IL-17, co-sponsored the Small Business Succession Planning Act aimed at helping business owners in cases like retirement or moving away.

“This program will help them draw up a succession plan,” Bustos said. “So they can get the most out of their … business that they want to sell or if they want to figure out how to pass that along.”

Western’s SBDC already hosts programs for start-up and minority-owned businesses. However, according to Bustos’ office, 58% of businesses don’t have succession plans.

Chris Merrett, Director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU, said that’s where the new program steps in.

“What you want to do is figure out how do we maximize the value,” Merret said. “There’s things you can be doing in that last couple of years before you want to exit to maximize the value of your business.”

The program will help with maximizing value by coming up with plans for updates to software or facilities which makes selling a business easier.

Oftentimes Merret said so-called “anchor” businesses, like family-owned pharmacies or hardware stores, struggle with succession plans.

“It’s one of those stores, you kind of go if it disappeared …you’d know it right?” Merrett said. “Sometimes in particular, in underserved communities, rural communities, it may be hard to find a buyer.”

When a business owner leaves behind their business, Merrett said it’s crucial it can still thrive.

“We sort of think about businesses competing against each other,” Merrett said. “That’s true to a certain extent, but there’s also sort of mutual benefit of being in a shopping area in a downtown area where we want to maximize foot traffic and car traffic.”

The program hopes to start hosting workshops and online resources for business owners sometime this summer.

Copyright 2022 KWQC. All rights reserved.



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