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Business center at BHC offers help to entrepreneurs
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More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Joel Youngs is the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Moline.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Joel Youngs is director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Moline.
MOLINE -- Even the furnishings and decorations of an office can be a lesson in achievement.

In Joel Youngs' office, his folders, calendar, stapler and books all seem arranged so he could find anything with eyes closed. A plant is well-groomed and happy looking, placed where it can be admired but not be in the way. The art on the wall hangs level.

It looks like a place where things can get done.

"People need to see what it takes to be successful," Mr. Youngs said.

That office is where Mr. Youngs, the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, brings entrepreneurs to help them start their business, grow it, save it or sell it.

Of course, it takes more than a tidy, well-organized office to make it in the business world.

"It takes an attitude. It takes passion," he said. "It takes good business basics. They have to come together in order to make it."

The center is operated through Black Hawk College in the Illinois Quad-Cities, he said. Much of the funding is federal money managed though the state. His office sees about 200 businesses a year.

Mr. Youngs said BHC's attitude is that creating jobs makes a stronger community. "And we're all better off for it," he added.

The center also partners with other groups, including the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, to help businesses, he said. There are roughly 1,400 small business development centers nationwide, with 36 in Illinois and 14 in Iowa. The Iowa Quad-Cities counterpart works through the Eastern Iowa Community College District.

At the centers, business owners of all stripes can get help. There is one-on-one counseling, courses on formulating business plans, advertising and different tools such as computer accounting programs. Mr. Youngs said the center even will help find and secure loans for projects, help acquire a space for the business or help find buyers for people who want to sell their businesses.

Operating a business is tough, he said, and the national average for business failure is about 80 percent in the first three years.

Many of the people who come to the center to learn more about starting a business decide it is not for them, while others realize they don't yet have the resources to get off the ground. Sometimes Mr. Youngs' office is the place he tells a would-be business owner that it might be better to let that dream go and try another.

Even among those who have both the desire and the resources, many don't make it, he said.

But there are ways to encourage success, he added.

Among the things a business owner needs to learn is that help very likely will have to be brought in from the outside at some point, Mr. Youngs said. He said most people who run small businesses are experts in their particular field -- they might be an excellent cook -- but not be so hot with the more business-oriented part of the equation.

"There's not enough time in the day for you to do everything," Mr. Youngs said.

Another thing an entrepreneur needs to know is their "number," he said. That means knowing how much business they have to be doing at a given point to be successful. "It allows you to make course corrections," he said.

New business owners also are well advised to make sure they pay themselves first, Mr. Youngs said. They have to be financially stable on a personal level.

Among existing business owners who come to the center, the plan is often to either expand the business or get out of some sort of trouble they have found themselves facing, he said. In the latter case, getting help sooner is usually better.

One business owner came in after losing about $1 million over several years and only had about three weeks of resources left, Mr. Youngs said. The business did not survive.

But another business had been losing about $5,000 a month for more than a year when it came to the center for help, Mr. Youngs said. Within six weeks of seeking aid, it had begun to turn a $1,500-a-month profit.

Mr. Youngs said he enjoys seeing businesses he's assisted be successful -- he's helping people fulfill their dreams.

"When that happens, it really makes this job not a job," he said.


Supporting the dream

Who: Joel Youngs, director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, Moline
Quote: "It takes an attitude. It takes passion. It takes good business basics. They have to come together in order to make it."


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  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.








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