Business center helps local businesses grow

Picture 1An on-campus, Arkansas Tech-supported department has been building the River Valley community one small business owner at a time.

One of seven centers in Arkansas, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) serves hopeful business owners in the mid-western part of the state.

“We work with anyone who has any sorts of ideas about starting a business,” Dardanelle native and center director Nathan George said. “Our only limitation is that you have to be a for-profit entity.”
The young development program has already created sixty-nine jobs, collaborated on five student projects and processed eight million dollars in loans—just this year. George said the department surpassed calendar year goals two months ago.

“We’ve got a good center here,” George said. “We just try to help people, and we have a variety of talent on this staff.”

The staff, consisting of two full-time employees and one part-time employee, includes Arkansas’ State Star, or employee of the year, Ronda Hawkins.

“Ronda has been with us for three and a half years,” George said.

Hawkins also teaches several of the training seminars the department hosts in order to better educate business owners.

“I love helping others start and grow their businesses,” Hawkins said. “In addition to training, I also do one-on-one consulting with business owners and those wanting to start a business. My consulting specialties included marketing, website creation, online presence development, recordkeeping, financial analysis and starting a business.”

“We want [the businesses] to be prepared as possible to start a business,” George said.

Start-up businesses aren’t the only entities the development center assists. George and his associates offer refresher courses for businesses already growing roots, and even teach classes here at Tech.
“I taught business law just last week,” George said. “I taught three classes of it.”

With two decades of teaching high school history under his belt, George is no stranger to the classroom. Owning a business for 41 years also provides him with the experience he needs to counsel business owners new and thriving alike.

“I can drive you around and about every few blocks go, ‘Hey, we worked with them, and we helped this business open,’” George said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Those interested in pursuing opening a business or a student project can contact Tech’s ASBTDC online at www.atu.edu/asbtdc.

About Sierra Murphy 54 Articles
Sierra Murphy is The Arka Tech's News Writer.