By Kelly Daniel, membership and marketing manager
Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce directors believe in small business. More than two-thirds of the Chamber's membership is considered a small business, so it is no secret that successful small businesses are valuable to this community. The Chamber believes the tools that are available for achieving the "successful" level should never be a secret.
In a November meeting, a small group comprised of representatives from the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp. and the Nacogdoches County Chamber discussed steps to understanding and filling local business owners' needs.
An immediate benefit that came from the meeting was creating a presence for the Angelina College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Nacogdoches.
For more than 30 years, the staff at the Angelina College Small Business Development Center in Lufkin has worked to support the small business concepts created by people throughout East Texas. Now, Larry Cain, CFP, CGBP and SBDC director, is making the services even easier to access in Nacogdoches with set office hours. From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Cain can be found in the Nacogdoches EDC boardroom in the Old Mize Factory office complex, 412 North St., ready to discuss business development with current and soon-to-be business owners. Cain's contact number is 936-633-5400.
"Over the years, a good number of our clients have commented that the services are much better than they expected," Cain said. "Eighty percent of clients come with a business idea, and in addition to start up, we can help with existing business expansion. We can do a business valuation to put a value on a business for sale."
All consulting is free and customized based on client needs.
Along with Cain at the Angelina College SBDC are part-time advisors Dianne Amerine, specializing in retail, and Dick Hughes with a global oil and gas background. Cain has 25 years experience in banking, 13 years in financial advising and is a licensed Texas real estate broker. He served as a part-time advisor for seven years at the Angelina SBDC before he was named director in 2014.
"Many really don't understand the resources and valuable consultations that SBDC can provide," Cain said. "However, I do have to dispel myths. The SBDC is not the Small Business Association. It is a part of Angelina College. The SBDC does not provide grant money or make loans."
However, Cain and his colleagues know how to find the funding, write the business plans and think through the steps that have to be taken to get a business where the owner visualizes.
Most SBDC clients are referred by banks, economic development corporations, past clients and chambers of commerce, but all are welcome to share business concepts with Cain for consultation.
Putting Cain in Nacogdoches on a regular schedule was one the first goals set and met by the Chamber/EDC group. "Identify the wants and needs of current and prospective businesses" was an additional task that the group discussed in November. The Chamber's Business Round Table Discussion held Feb. 4 was the result.
"Both Nacogdoches EDC and the Chamber have interests in helping businesses develop the things that they need to succeed," said Grady Cashion, Area Manager, Customer Operations at Oncor Electric and the vice chairman of the Chamber's Business Development Division. "We recognize that business success can be achieved if the owner knows where to find the right tools and resources."
Representatives from a variety of industries were invited to participate in a group discussion held on Feb. 4. The Nacogdoches EDC sponsored the event and Miles McCall, executive vice president with Commercial Bank of Texas, served as the facilitator.
According to McCall many topics made the list created during the round table discussion, but key areas that received the most attention were communication skills, developing a work-force culture, time management, organizational skills, building trust with your organization, problem solving skills and developing the ability to assess and understand the urgency of key issues within an organization.
"One of the conversations centered around what groups exist in town that offer training and how can the Chamber 'broker' relationships by creating course catalogs or listings, annual relationship meetings etc.," McCall said. "Organizations that were mentioned included Etech, SFA and SFA Career Services, the City of Nacogdoches, Work Force Solutions and the Angelina College SBDC."
Cashion appreciated the contributions of the round table discussion panel participants CEO of Nacogdoches Medical Center Jeff Patterson, Tipton Ford Owner Neal Slaten and Associate Dean of Faculty and Administration, SFA Nelson Rusche College of Business Dr. Todd Brown. "All three expressed their personal experiences and needs for the success of their businesses."
"As the facilitator, it was interesting to lead the discussions between organizations with such diverse business sizes, types of industry, service versus production and skill levels of employees," McCall said. "Also interesting was the amount of discussions that centered around the changing work force, social media, and what is important to employees. Modern day workers in many cases don’t value stability but prefer change and adventure. They prefer flexibility over structure."
In the Chamber's business development leadership role, Cashion expects business leaders to be partners in the Chamber as we engage in the development of small businesses in the County. "More training workshops and resources are being developed for employers to utilize in meeting their business goals."
For more information about the Angelina College SBDC, contact Cain at 936-633-5400. Find more about the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce at www.nacogdoches.org or call 936-560-5533 and the Nacogdoches EDC at www.nedco.org or call 936-559-1255,