By Krista Wilson
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter
Lansing offers resources for small businesses development; they just have to be sought out.
Regional Director of the SBDC at LCC, Tom Donaldson, said the center has a lot of resources for businesses in the beginning stage that are free of charge.
“We offer over 65 workshops and seminars on how to start, get bank loans, how to market, and how to use social media,” said Donaldson. “Experts are brought in to work one-on-one with entrepreneurs on financial projections, business strategies, utilizing the market to their advantage.”
Botke-Coe said the SBDC offered mentorship programs and workshops that taught her how to manage her money when she was in the process of starting her business.
“Many entrepreneurs don’t know about their local Chamber of Commerce, which offers many resources for funding as well,” said Pattway. “Be careful in taking too many grants though, because they can take a lot of time and work, which can be a distraction when trying to generate revenue directly from what your business offers.”
“I never applied for a grant for my business,” said Botke-Coe. “I used my retirement fund money from working at Michigan State University as a librarian.”
Although she never got a grant for her business, Botke-Coe said that the block where her store is located received funding to address the outside of businesses on that block.
Botke-Coe said the grant helped unify the block by adding outdoor furniture, umbrellas, planters, and landscaping.
Located at 2019 E. Michigan Ave. on Lansing’s east side, the book store even got a piano placed on its storefront to “beautify” the exterior.
Botke-Coe said the Eastside Neighborhood Organization donated the labor to help with the landscaping and execution.
The bookstore was originally in Okemos when it opened in 1992, but Botke-Coe said she moved her business to Lansing two and a half years ago.
“I really love this Lansing location,” said Botke-Coe, “My store is on a street that gets a lot traffic and it leads right to the capital.”
Lansing native Lindsay Harper said she grew up in Lansing and would like to see more businesses get established here to build up the economy.
“We need more businesses that allow the Lansing economy to flourish more and be more shopper-friendly for people who live here as well as visitors,” said Harper.
Harper said, “I try to shop at local businesses as much as I can because it makes sense to keep the money flowing within the community.”
“Places like Fabiano’s Candy or the Peanut Shop have been around for as long as I can remember, “said Harper, “and they make Lansing a more charming place to be.”
Botke-Coe said her business has grown phenomenally, but she thinks that Lansing could do more for its businesses.
“It seems like the small businesses in Lansing get ignored,” said Botke-Coe, “The businesses in Old Town are definitely taken care of because that’s where the richer people are.”
Botke-Coe said Lansing should offer more free parking, fix the pot holes on Michigan Avenue, and be more direction-friendly for visitors.
“It’s the capital area,” said Botke-Coe, “They need to spiff it up.”
Donaldson said the SBDC partnered with the Lansing Area Economic Partnership to develop a program called Hatching.
LEAP offers the program once a month where potential entrepreneurs have five minutes to pitch their business idea and the winner receives $1,000 to launch their business, said Donaldson.
Donaldson said the Lansing Proto is another program that helps businesses get funding, but through an application process.
“The proto is more aimed at product-based businesses,” said Donaldson. “They give up to $15,000 per business that goes through the whole application process.”