KRBA helps get business up and running

essica Dreschel

For those seeking to start a new business, help may not be farther than Kent State’s campus.

The Kent Regional Business Association, located on the third floor of Kent State’s Business Administration Building, provides counseling services for start-up businesses.

“We try to reduce the learning curve for small businesses,” said Linda Yost, vice president of business services for the KRBA.

The KRBA advises an average of 500 clients annually, Yost said. Of those 500, an estimated 40 percent are new companies. From that narrowed 40 percent, roughly 20 percent will continue getting help from the KRBA.

“The material presented at the first interview can be intimidating,” Yost said.

Due to the volume of new information presented to first-time clients, the KRBA has expanded this first step to a two-hour orientation offered every Thursday, said Susan Whiting, business advisor at the KRBA.

Whiting said the initial meeting with clients is intended to assess how far along a client is on his or her idea. The advising then progresses according to the specific client’s needs.

“We ask questions. We advise. We do not tell clients how to run their business,” she said.

Yost said most of the KRBA’s clients are based in Northeast Ohio. However, some are far-flung from their hometown. One Kent State graduate is working out of Atlanta, she said.

Current Kent State students have planned and organized a new business while still in school, Yost said. Students’ schedules can sometimes be hectic, but she has advice for any student thinking about starting their own businesses.

“Don’t skip class,” she said. “We don’t advocate that,”

KRBA CEO Jack Crews and Larry Marks, the associate dean for the college of business started the KRBA in 1993.

Yost said somewhere in the KRBA offices is the original napkin on which Crews sketched out his plan for the new organization.

The KRBA houses a number of other departments, including the Small Business Development Center, International Trade Assistance Center and the Kent Business Incubator, Whiting said.

Yost said the incubator offers services that may help a fledgling new business get started. The incubator offers start-ups resources such as physical space, technical support and administrative services.

“The incubator is full, always full,” she said.

Whiting said past clients of the business incubator include AlphaMicron Inc., a Kent-based liquid crystal research and development firm.

Contact business reporter Jessica Dreschel at [email protected].