Ready, Set, Start Your Business!

Storefront during snow stormAs we celebrate Montana businesses this month on social media, we want to shine a light on Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the important work they do for small businesses across the nation. Under the guise of the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are ten SBDC regional centers across Montana. For individuals that are looking to start a business or grow an existing one, the SBDC network is the best place to start.

Bear Paw Development Corporation

In Havre, the Bear Paw Development Corporation is a host agency for SBDC, and their region includes Hill, Blaine, Liberty, Chouteau and Phillips Counties, as well as the Rocky Boy’s and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations. They provide confidential, no-cost, step-by-step assistance in developing business plans, analyzing cash flow projections and financials, along with many other services designed to meet the specific needs of small businesses in northern Montana.  They also assist clients with their business accounting needs, including individual and group sessions using QuickBooks software. Other trainings which are usually tailored to the needs of each community or business are also offered.

The SBDC at Bear Paw Development also serves as the Native American Business Advisor for the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, providing entrepreneurial training and business counseling services for members of the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

Increase in Requests for Assistance

Paul Tuss

Paul Tuss, Executive Director for Bear Paw Development Corporation

According to Paul Tuss, Executive Director for Bear Paw Development Corporation, in the past several months they have seen a sizable increase in requests for assistance. This was due in part, to area businesses reaching out for assistance with Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications that are overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA) due to COVID-19. And this year alone, they have sponsored 5 small business training sessions in which over 60 individuals from Bear Paw’s five-county region participated to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills, and directly assisted with 5 new business start-ups or acquisitions.

“Bear Paw Development has been serving the business counseling needs of northern Montana for nearly 30 years and we know our efforts continue to make a positive difference for entrepreneurs in our very rural region,” said Paul Tuss, Executive Director.  “The SBDC is an absolutely critical partner in allowing us to deliver professional, confidential, no-cost advising to existing business owners as well as start-up entrepreneurs.

Joe LaPlante is the SBDC Director at Bear Paw Development and can be reached at 406-265-9226 or by email at jlaplante@bearpaw.org. He is a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional, an Accredited Small Business Consultant and has served as SBDC Director at Bear Paw for 14 years.

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