Leeanne Plumbright cannot stop thanking Collin College and the Collin Small Business Development Center (Collin SBDC) for the business services, programs and courses they provide the community.

Had it not been for the Collin SBDC, Plumbright’s company, Plumbright Services, would not have had an opportunity to secure funding for her plumbing maintenance and repair enterprise.

Stonewalled by banks, Plumbright deemed it was necessary to seek help from the Collin SBDC, located at Collin College’s Courtyard Center in Plano. There, she met with Marta Frey, director of the Collin SBDC, who, through networking, identified a small community bank in north Texas that would be a perfect fit.

After several meetings with this bank, which Plumbright describes as one that is not only supportive of its local community but also people who are in the commercial construction arena, the business owner received a loan within three months.

“I could not have done this without Collin SBDC,” Plumbright said. “The Collin SBDC is an outstanding organization that provides relevant classes and opportunities to be successful. Collin SBDC has concrete, quantifiable value for the residents of Collin County. It gives me a sense of pride in my community and what it has to offer knowing that we have services like the Collin SBDC.”

Success Stories

Like Plumbright, Karen Marx also has high praise for the Collin SBDC. As a new business owner, Marx approached the Collin SBDC specifically for mentoring and advice. Marx wanted to make sure she was properly planning her business venture for opportunities and growth.

“The statistics for new businesses are fairly intimidating,” said Marx, co-founder of Timely Tuition, an online payment collection and invoice system designed specifically for childcare and early learning centers. “Some studies show that as many as 90 percent of new business ventures fail within the first five years. Collin SBDC helped me acquire the skills I needed to make my business a success from day one.”

Success stories like Plumbright’s and Marx’s are why Collin College and the Collin SBDC continue to have a stellar reputation in the business community.

“We are in one of the fastest growing counties in Texas. The business programs and services we provide help encourage business growth through economic development. The services provided by Collin College are not a luxury, but a necessity,” Frey said. “These classes, private consulting, research opportunities and training ensure that our small business community remains strong despite economic conditions. We assist small businesses in creating jobs by utilizing the elements of quality counseling and training, community involvement and the leveraging of resources.”

Never Busier

With a bleak economy that has resulted in a record number of professionals searching for jobs, many people are turning to entrepreneurship as a means to make a living.

According to Frey, since fall 2006, the Collin SBDC has helped more than 3,200 clients access $17.5 million in capital, increase their sales by $24.6 million and retain more than 1,500 employees.

“It is typical when people are terminated or laid off for them to retrain for different careers by going back to school. The greatest increase in enrollment in our management and marketing program seems to be in students who take the Small Business Management course and its supporting courses,” Professor Paula Miller, chair of Collin College’s accounting, marketing and management programs, said. “A large number of people from Collin County are making use of the time that they have after being laid off by coming to Collin College to get help to start their own businesses or to improve their abilities to keep existing businesses in operation.”

Diverse Options

Collin College has former accounting students working as CPAs for the likes of Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. There are also many former marketing, management and international business students, like Jay Wang and Rachel Warren, who have seen immediate results – as is the case for the Collin SBDC’s clients.

Warren owns a specialty cake business while Wang started operating an international business, Dress My Way, while still taking marketing and management courses at Collin College in 2009. With employees locally and in China, Dress My Way is a company that allows females to design their own special-occasion dresses and have them made to order within two months.

“Collin College is doing its part in supporting business by educating future and current businessmen and women,” said Professor Miller, who was named the outstanding accounting educator for the state of Texas by the Texas Society of CPA’s in 2009. “Our business expertise is fundamental to the economy recovering as we help create more jobs in the communities that our students represent.”

“We partner with these businesses so that our students can participate in projects that benefit the businesses and allow our students opportunities to practice theories and methods that they need to understand and use when they leave the academic world,” said Collin College marketing, management and English professor Gloria Cockerell, who has published a Principles of Marketing textbook for use by freshmen and sophomore students.

The Collin SBDC, which offers no cost, customized business consulting and training, is also a proven source for entrepreneurs to find assistance to grow successful businesses. Having been named SBDC of the Year twice since 2005, the Collin SBDC is the busiest SBDC in a 49-county region, according to Frey.

“Many times when the economy is suffering, lay-offs are abundant and finding a new job is hard, people see business ownership as a solution,” Frey added. “Through the collaboration of Collin College’s business programs and services, the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides funding to support the SBDC, and the State of Texas, the college promotes business success by providing quality education.”

To learn more about Collin College’s business-related programs and services and the Collin SBDC, visit collin.edu.

About the author: Justin Jones is a public relations writer for Collin College.