Budget impasse forces SIU Small Business Development Center closure

The eight month long Illinois budget impasse has claimed another casualty in southern Illinois. As of March 31, the Southern Illinois University Small Business Development Center will close.

That leaves six full-time workers and several part-time student workers unemployed.

After graduating from Southern Illinois University, Dawn Grisley had the crazy idea to start her own company. Grisley says the SIU Small Business Development Center helped her dream come true.

"I never thought it would happen as fast as it did," said Grisley. "We had our idea, and three months later we took it to the small business development center. And a month after that we were going."

Director Greg Bouhl says the center services about 600 clients per year and helped launch 45 small businesses in 2014 alone.

"This is where we live and work, and we want to make it a better place," said Bouhl. "It’s just nice knowing we’ve had some sort of impact in our area."

After 32 years in the business of small business, the state funds have stopped flowing and the center is closing down.

"In a rural area, it’s hard to get the expertise that we provide," said Bouhl.

"People do use this in downstate Illinois, and it’s a huge part of the local economy that people aren’t aware of," said Grisley.

"It’s peoples livelihoods that we’re affecting," Bouhl.

While the SIU Small Business Development Center will be closing its doors, it will be business as usual for the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center and the businesses that it houses.

The SIU Small Business Development Center is funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

There is hope that the doors could stay open without any layoffs if the state were to pass a budget before March 31.

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