High Hopes For New Director Of Small Business Center - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

High Hopes For New Director Of Small Business Center

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KALISPELL -

It's meant to create jobs and grow small businesses, and now, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Flathead Valley Community College has a new director.

John Balsam has only been on the job for about two months, but he's already gotten down to business. By 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, he had already met with four small business owners for an hour or more each.

"What I do is I sit and I listen," said Balsam.

The SBDC of Northwest Montana is one of ten across the state. The one at FVCC sees people from Lincoln, Lake and Flathead counties and it's the only center tied to a college. Balsam says all ten are at max capacity.

"We can't serve fully as many clients as come in the door," said Balsam.

For 25 years, Balsam was a consultant for several companies in Montana and the US.

"I'm really tickled that we have John Balsam on staff. He's a great complement and I don't think you'll find a business owner that he's worked with that won't tell you how much he's enhanced their ability to perform," said Susie Burch, FVCC's executive director of economic development and continuing education.

With this new job, he's going to be judged by his bosses based on five things: client satisfaction; capital infusion earned by businesses in the form of grants, loans and investments; number of long-term and extended-engagement clients; and the big one-- number of businesses started. Last year, his predecessor successfully helped local entrepreneurs get more than $3 million.

Balsam is hoping to work up to that.

"Yes, they can move forward, but they would move forward much more slowly than if I can work with them," said Balsam.

He doesn't just offer sage advice and a way to get capital, Balsam also takes advantage of being attached to FVCC and refers some of his clients to continuing education classes on campus.

Click here to go to the SBDC of Northwest Montana's website.

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