20 Annual 20 Report
who we are South Carolina Small Business
Development byCENTERS region SOUTH CAROLINa SMALL BUSINESSCenters DEVELOPMENT BY REGION G
Clemson Region Clemson Region
Winthrop WinthropRegion Region M
Clemson Greenville Spartanburg Greenwood
SC StateRegion Region SC State Orangeburg Walterboro*
Florence Myrtle Beach Rock Hill Georgetown* Union*
Colleton Charleston Beaufort
*Part-time Satellite Center
UofSC USCRegion Region
Aiken Beaufort Charleston North Charleston Columbia Hilton Head Newberry Sumter Lexington*
he South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) advances the state’s economic development by providing entrepreneurs no-fee consulting services, affordable training programs and access to an array of valuable resources. The SC SBDC operates as a cohesive network, offering clients at every stage of the business life-cycle (from pre-venture and early-stage to established and mature) confidential access to the combined wisdom of about 50 professionals located in 20 centers throughout the state’s 46 counties. This collaborative approach establishes the SC SBDC as the preeminent provider of essential consulting services including business and strategic plan development, cash flow management, access to capital, loan packaging, diversification strategies, marketing/promotion and succession planning, to name a few. Underpinning these core competencies, the SC SBDC operates specialty programs fostering exporting, technology commercialization, government contracting, manufacturing, cybersecurity and disaster recovery.
Thank you to our host universities.
tABLE OF CONTENTS page
State Director, SC SBDC
Secretary, SC Commerce
SC SBDC Consortium Chair
2020 results Economic Impact
News and network updates
client success stories
2020: the sbdc pandemic response
covid-19 client success snapshots
In appreciation of Frank L. Roddy for his leadership and support in the creation of the SC Small Business Development Centers
Message from SC SBDC State Director
harles A. Beard, an American historian, said: “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” That is indeed what happened when COVID-19 first emerged onto our social consciousness. The wholesale economic disruptions it caused made it readily apparent that small businesses were especially vulnerable and would bear the brunt of required closings and other sanctions pragmatically implemented to contain the virus. Without a moment’s hesitation, the stars of the SC SBDC network shone through, quickly mobilizing and adapting our service delivery model to provide urgently needed triage to small businesses throughout the state seeking our assistance and reassurance. Despite the pandemic, some of the SC SBDC’s more stalwart companies courageously continued striving to achieve their strategic objectives. With assistance from their consultants, some clients won their first government contracts, while others began exporting globally or leased additional facilities to accommodate escalating e-commerce orders. Their ambitious achievements are chronicled in stories starting on page 8. I am proud of what the SC SBDC accomplished in 2020. Through the Herculean efforts of our consultants and staff, the SC SBDC answered requests for assistance from 11,926 South Carolinians facing their worst nightmares and conducted training programs for 10,002 individuals. All-day and oftentimes during the night, our consultants listened to the heart-wrenching stories of small business owners throughout the state. Like the 60-year-old grandfather struggling to save a corner store that had been in his family for generations, or the 25-year-old entrepreneur who elatedly launched her startup in late 2019, only to see it facing collapse a few short months later. Though the stories are varied, their tellers share a similar testimony: the SC SBDC provided much-needed solutions and solace to anxious business owners. “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Yes, I am proud and inspired by how our network excelled during such a challenging and anomalous year. The added brilliance of our esteemed advisors and advocates such as our advisory councils, university hosts, elected officials, state agencies, SBA and other partners further enabled us to be the trustworthy lodestar small business owners needed. I am proud of the resiliency, vigilance, savvy and compassion demonstrated by every person associated with the SC SBDC network. The outcomes we helped businesses achieve are evidence of this commitment (see page 4). What undoubtedly could have been a wholly cataclysmic year, I believe, emerged as one of the SC SBDC’s finest hours.
Michele Abraham State Director SC Small Business Development Centers
Message from Secretary of Commerce
bobby hitt I
n 2020, small businesses throughout South Carolina faced unprecedented hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representing 97 percent of private employers in the state, the impact of business closings touched families from the Lowcountry to the Upstate and every community in between. Recognizing this, Team South Carolina responded with immediacy, marshalling our collective resources to help small business owners overcome pandemic-related obstacles. Like the business owners it serves, the SC SBDC was diligent, focused and innovative throughout this crisis. As vital members of Team South Carolina, SC SBDC consultants provided an essential lifeline to business owners, helping them access special funding, understand emerging regulations, adapt their business models/ processes to find alternative revenue streams, develop reopening plans and craft new strategies for long-term sustainability. I am confident that when we look back on 2020, we’ll be able to mark the year as one of significant innovation, determination and perseverance. It was a year in which the SC SBDC played a critical role in assuring the prosperity of South Carolina by helping 11,926 small business owners expand their e-commerce capabilities, attract new customers through creative marketing campaigns, access working capital, develop sustainable growth strategies, scale operations to sell globally and win lucrative government contracts. On behalf of Team South Carolina, I want to thank the SC SBDC for its valiant efforts in ensuring the Palmetto State remains ‘Just Right’ for business.
Robert M. Hitt III Secretary of Commerce SC Department of Commerce
Message from SC SBDC Consortium Chair
harles Rosner said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 wrought major damage and serious challenges to individuals, businesses, communities, educational institutions and government agencies alike. The ensuing mandated closures crippled the economy and forever changed our concept of “normal.” With myriad adversities materializing almost daily, our nation— instead of capitulating—immediately leapt in and began developing answers. We overcame unprecedented challenges by being innovative and leveraging partnerships to develop and bolster resources. Throughout 2020, the SC SBDC was on the front lines helping small and mid-sized businesses across our state respond, adapt and recover from this pandemic, which has lasted far longer than anyone predicted. As a result, small businesses in South Carolina obtained over $77 million in financing, created/retained 3,912 jobs and started 143 new companies. As host universities, Clemson, South Carolina State, Winthrop and the University of South Carolina stepped up to support the SC SBDC and facilitate the network’s efforts to rapidly hire new personnel needed to assist the surge of new clients, procure resources needed to operate in a virtual environment and augment its service offerings to meet the changing needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the state. As our universities implemented necessary cutbacks, the SC SBDC helped many undergraduate and graduate students prepare for their future careers by providing them with paid positions and real-world job experience. We also collaborated with the SC SBDC to develop new entrepreneurial programs such as incubators, specialty services for rural and food businesses, international trade assistance and others. I am proud to say that in 2020, the SC SBDC network again demonstrated its resolve and resilience by creating innovative solutions that will help sustain South Carolina’s entrepreneurial community and ensure economic vitality for years to come. Congratulations on a job well done!
Barbara L. Adams, Ph.D., CPA Dean & Professor of Accounting SC State University
2020 Economic Impact
ADVISORY BOARD Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes, Board Chair, Owner, Thee Matriarch Bed and Breakfast Jim Rohrer, Vice-Chair, Senior Credit Team Lead, TD Bank April Simpkins, President, HRS&S Consulting LLC Ashely Teasdel, Director of Business Services Division, SC Department of Commerce Courtney T. R. Furman, President, Furman Architects Cynthia Blair, Blair Cato Pickren Casterline, LLC Douglas Lineberry, Burr & Forman Frank Knapp, President & CEO, SC Small Business Chamber Gary Breit, Principal, Breit Ideas, LLC Jason Premo, President & CEO, Premo Ventures JoLee Gudmundson, President & Owner, Gudmundson Consulting Neil Rashley, Senior Vice President and Counsel, SC Bankers Association Ray Reich, Downtown Development Manager, City of Florence R. Cal Bruner Jr., Realtor, Century 21 The Moore Group Steve Bailey, CEO & Chairman, Menus Refreshment Service Honorary Member, Gregg White, District Director, Small Business Administration
Paul Featheringill joins sc sbdc network UofSC Region Director
In October, Paul Featheringill joined the SC SBDC as Director of the UofSC Region—which covers 13 counties and comprises eight area centers and one satellite location. Featheringill is located in the North Charleston office. Like all SC SBDC network professionals, Featheringill will draw upon his breadth and depth of experience to strengthen the SBDC network and enrich the quality of its services. Featheringill began his career in economic development and then applied his expertise as a business loan officer for the City of Columbia and later Charleston Local Development Corporation, where he was responsible for approving over $3 million in loans in a single year. Featheringill says that he is excited to join the SC SBDC team. “The UofSC Region covers some of the most dynamic areas of the state and I look forward to continuing to build upon the great work this group has been doing for many years.”
“Entrepreneurial Pathways is an excellent class that provided me with invaluable information. I am so glad I took the leap of faith and dived into the unknown.” Millicent Bolden, CEO Yvette’s Kitchen, LLC
UofSC Region Director
pathways to entrepreneurship Building Strong Foundations for Growth Since 2013, The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) Program of the Greenville Chamber has been working to increase the overall capacity of locally-based, high-potential Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). As an advocate of the MBA program for several years, the SC SBDC has provided coaching and mentoring to cohort members. In 2018, SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham and SC SBDC Greenville Area Manager Earl Gregorich met with MBA Program Administrator Dr. Nika White to design a separate, customized curriculum enabling socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses to qualify for the MBA Program.
Millicent Bolden increased her sales by 50% while attending the class
Now known as Entrepreneurial Pathways (EP), this educational series covers topics such as marketing, financial management, funding preparation, business planning and regulatory requirements. SC SBDC advisors enrich the cohort-style learning experience by providing participants one-on-one consultations between sessions. The first EP cohort graduated in 2019, and since then several have gone on to join the MBA program. In addition, the SC SBDC provides graduates with ongoing assistance to support their continued, long-term growth.
Orangeburg Area SBDC named center of the year The Orangeburg Area Small Business Development Center was named the SBA’s 2020 SBDC Center of Excellence and Innovation by SBA SC District Director Gregg White at the annual awards ceremony. The center won the award for both SC and the Southeast region, which comprises eight states. “Our goal is to honor and recognize our winners for the jobs and opportunities they continue to create for the South Carolina economy,” said White. According to SC State University Region Director Jim Johnson, “The award reflects the significance of the SBDC program in the rural regions of South Carolina, including the Orangeburg community.” In 2019, this five-person team helped 303 clients start 33 new businesses, obtain $1.2 million in financing and create/retain 135 jobs. The center also conducted 23 training sessions attended by more than 343 people.
SC SBDC Annual Awards Ceremony At the annual awards ceremony, Greenwood Area Manager and Business Consultant Ben Calhoun was named the 2020 SC SBDC State Star. Calhoun joined the network in 2018, bringing with him over 22 years of professional experience in consumer finance, management and consulting. As a former small business owner he understands the many challenges entrepreneurs face each day and enjoys serving as their advocate. “Calhoun was personally committed to helping small businesses in his service area recover from the devastation of the pandemic,” said SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham. “As a result, he single-handedly helped business owners obtain almost $18 million in grants and loans and create/save over 1,800 jobs.”
Additional SC SBDC Annual Award Winners: Individual Achievement Award Ben Smith Clemson Area SBDC Leadership Award Jim Johnson Orangeburg Area SBDC Team Spirit Award Allen Brown Columbia Area SBDC Rising Star Award Jim Wetzel Charleston Area SBDC Partner of Distinction Award William Furman S.C. District SBA Office MVP Award Winners: Clemson Region: Andrea Galehouse UofSC Region: Carolyn Strange Winthrop Region: Janet Graham SC State Region: Gary Robinson Lead Center: Sarah Hines
2020 sc sbdc client demographics
SC SBDC Launches Student Consultant Program In collaboration with the Wilber O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University, the Clemson Region SBDC launched a student research center that employs business school interns who assist clients with their research needs. “This experiential learning opportunity enables us to provide no-fee, in-depth market research to small businesses that otherwise would have to pay a significant sum for comparable services,” said Ezgi (Izzy) Ferrand, student center coordinator and lead market research specialist for the Clemson Region.
11,926 total clients counseled
Consulting by Business Type
Business Ownership Genders 12%
Male/Female According to Clemson Region Director Jill Kesler McCollum, these students not only are accelerating the pace at which her team can provide clients professional-caliber competitive intelligence reports, marketing strategies and SWOT analyses, but they also enable consultants to better invest the time they spend advising clients.
Ethnic Background Black or African American White
.8% .3% 2.5%
Asian American Indian or Alaskan Indian Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
“Té is a family-first man of character who approaches business with steady intention,” said Smith. “He has a bigger purpose, and it shows in his willingness to lean on others for guidance.” By February of 2020, Johnson had received $1,041,630 in loans and local facility improvement grants. Despite the pandemic, Amici Café Easley has performed well and Johnson forecasts that his restaurant will exceed its business goals in 2021. His optimistic outlook parallels his gratitude for the SBDC.
Services Provided: > Business Plan Preparation
Clemson Area SBDC Client - amici-cafe.com/easley/
In 2016, Ferrante “Té” Johnson created his restaurant services holding company, The Topaz Group, and has received four consecutive years of guidance from business consultant Ben Smith with the Clemson Area SBDC. With Smith’s help, Johnson has generated over two million dollars in capital funding and used these funds to expand his restaurant management and consulting services as well as invest in the equity of existing restaurants. Industry: Restaurant Franchising, Johnson’s most recent project was launching Consulting and Management Amici Café Easley. The Madison, GA-based Challenge: The client sought to expand his franchise boasts quality food and low prices, and restaurant services business by launching a Johnson identified overlap between these features new franchise that he would own in full. and his previous experiences in managing pizza Approach: The SBDC helped the client restaurant franchises. Seeing an opportunity to develop a business plan with emphasis on expand his business and take full ownership of financial projections, conducting a feasibility the restaurant, Johnson once again turned to his assessment and writing a loan proposal. SC SBDC consultant. Results Ben Smith’s extensive experience with assessing • New Business Started the feasibility of expansion projects made him • Capital Formation: $1,041,630 • Jobs Created: 2 full-time, 34 part-time the ideal consultant. In addition to conducting a • Jobs Retained: 3 full-time thorough feasibility assessment, Smith helped Johnson prepare a business plan with a detailed model of the franchise’s financial projections and a loan proposal. Smith’s associate Dr. “Izzy” Ferrand also assisted the client by conducting market research and analyzing industry trends.
the topaz group, llc: amici café easley
pizza - wings - friends
> Financial Projections > Feasibility Analysis > Loan Application > Business Expansion
“I find them a reliable source of guidance, worthy of my trust, and accessible,” said Johnson. “I have not made an expansion decision without their guidance, nor do I intend to.” “I have used the SC SBDC as my go-to resource for guidance in growing my business over the past 4+ years. In addition, I have referred two close associates (one expanding his business and the other with a start-up project) to Ben for assistance with their business development projects and both were beyond appreciative.” Té Johnson, Owner The Topaz Group, LLC: Amici Café Easley
Charleston Area SBDC Client - flycraftchs.com
craft flight training
Business is soaring Since purchasing Chucktown Flight Training (dba CRAFT Flight Training) in 2019, co-owners Jay and Amanda Aldea have seen their business soar. When they first purchased Chucktown, it was a failing flight school with two planes, three contractors and no employees. Today, Charleston Regional Accelerated Flight Training (CRAFT) has 10 planes, nine contractors, eight employees Industry: Flight Training and a second location in Summerville. Challenge: Client needed information about running a successful pilot training In less than a year, the Aldea’s and their partner, business, improving cash flow, hiring Barry Emerson, have transformed a business employees and raising capital. on the brink of bankruptcy into a thriving flight training school by hiring instructors as full-time Approach: Constultant reviewed financial employees rather than independent contractors statements, conducted a business valuation, gave recommendations for and offering a state-of-the-art flight simulator negotiating a partnership agreement and where students can confidently hone their helped client prepare loan applications. technical skills before entering an aircraft. Results • EIDL Loan: $77,000 • Annual Sales Increase: $592,300 • Jobs Created: 5 full-time, 3 part-time
Without previous experience as business owners, the Aldea’s attribute much of CRAFT’s success to the assistance of Charleston Area business consultant Tom Lauria. Lauria offered the Aldea’s a basic understanding of how to run a successful, financially stable business, and he provided access to webinars, online courses and other helpful resources. When business began to stall due to restrictions related to the pandemic, Lauria helped the Aldea’s apply for and receive a $77,000 EIDL loan. After being closed for six consecutive weeks, CRAFT used this financial relief to sustain the business. “Tom made himself available to answer any questions about what the money could be used for,” Amanda Aldea said. “He always has my back and makes a point to look out for us.”
> Loan Application Preparation
> Strategic Planning Despite the pandemic, Amanda and Jay Aldea are cautiously optimistic for 2021. With the largest fleet of Diamond Aircraft > Access to Resources in South Carolina, CRAFT is being contracted by Charleston > Fiscal Management Southern University to offer accredited classroom training > Training Events and flight instruction at both of its locations. CRAFT is in the process of securing its Part 141 certification, which will help assure a seamless training program with the university, and as a veteran himself, Jay also aspires to eventually enrolling new students through the GI Bill.
“The SBDC has been invaluable to the growth of our business. Tom Lauria’s insights helped us build a roadmap to achieve the success we’ve had so far, despite the pandemic. Our relationship with the SBDC will continue to be a strategic resource as we move forward.” Jay Aldea, Co-Owner CRAFT Flight Training
Industry: International Defense Procurement Challenge: Client needed to obtain a line of credit from the SBA’s Export Working Capital Program (EWCP) to enhance his company’s cash flow Approach: The consultant explained the complexities of the EWCP to the client and helped him complete the application. Results: • Capital Formation (SBA Loan): $5 million • Total Annual Sales: $3.4 million • Jobs Retained: 7 full-time
At the company’s helm is CEO Robert Suber, an international business executive with over 30 years of progressive management, operations, business development, sales, banking and contracting experience. Fluent in multiple languages, Suber helped build a multimillion-dollar company that fulfills government contracts and exports to over 20 countries. With his headquarters team of six employees, Suber has consistently generated $2.3 million in annual revenues.
Suber felt that a line of credit to enhance cash flow in international operations would assist in company growth. In May, Suber contacted the SC SBDC and was introduced to senior business consultant Beth Smith. With her extensive knowledge of exporting regulations, a cultivated network of industry experts and experience in Central and South American distribution, Smith was wellpositioned to help Suber obtain the line of credit MGS, LLC needed.
M.G. suber & associates, llc
M.G. Suber & Associates, LLC (MGS, LLC) is a Columbia, SC-based international defense procurement company that has served as a respected trading partner with icons of the global defense and law-enforcement industries for two decades.
Columbia Area SBDC Client - mgsuber.com
spanning the globe
“After learning about Robert’s business challenges and aspirations, I suggested he take advantage of the SBA’s Export Working Capital Program,” said Smith. “The program is suited for small exporting businesses like his that are often denied working capital advances from conventional U.S. banks.” Smith’s first order of business was helping the Suber team prepare an export business plan. “Identifying countries for export, along with a list of the products sold in each market, helped us justify why the Export Working Capital Line of Credit was so necessary,” Smith said. “The company’s next challenge was completing the key document of the loan package—SBA Form 84-1.”
> EWCP Loan Application > Cash Flow Management > Exporting > Growth Strategies
In October, Regions Bank approved a $5 million loan for MGS, LLC. “With this line of credit, Robert can cover the typical 45-day gap between when he purchases goods and when he receives payments from customers,” said Smith. According to Smith, MGS, LLC has a very promising future. “Robert recently established MGS International Ltd in the United Kingdom,” she said. “The additional revenue will enable his company to continue growing its global capabilities.” “Our team is very grateful for the assistance that consultant Beth Smith provided.” Robert Suber, CEO M. G. Suber & Associates, LLC
Greenwood Area SBDC Client - www.facebook.com/Micromachinegreenwood/
MICRO MACHINE AND FABRICATION
a gutsy move that paid off For over 25 years Micro Machine in Greenwood has provided customized, small-batched machining services to larger manufacturers in a cost-effective, timely and skillful manner. In 2019, David Eisenreich had never started, owned or run a business; but when the former owner of Micro Machine announced that he was selling the company, Eisenreich saw a chance to do all Industry: Machine Shop, Metal Fabrication three at once. Challenge: The client needed help with assessing an opportunity to purchase a Well aware of the challenges facing him, machine shop and obtaining a loan. Eisenreich knew to proceed with caution. Initially, his two main objectives were assessing Approach: Consultant helped prepare a the feasibility of buying the shop and financing business plan, financial projections and a the purchase itself. When Eisenreich’s first project summary; also advised on how to attempt at obtaining a commercial loan failed, transfer business ownership. the local lender—who was familiar with the Results: SC SBDC—referred Eisenreich to Greenwood • New Business Started Area SBDC Manager and Business Consultant • Capital Formation: $215,000 • Annual Sales Increase: $65,300 Ben Calhoun. • Jobs Created: 3 full-time, 1 part-time Over the course of six months, Calhoun helped his client complete a business plan, compile financial projections, prepare a convincing project summary and successfully navigate the loan application process. He also used his personal connections and familiarity with special lending programs to help Eisenreich secure loans from the Upper Savannah Council of Governments Revolving Loan Fund and the Appalachian Development Corporation, each worth $107,500. Eisenreich used the Services Provided: combined $215,000 to help purchase Micro Machine in May 2020—a gutsy move that proved well-founded. > Business Plan Development In the midst of a global pandemic that destabilized the economy and confounded industry titans, neophyte businessman Eisenreich took the helm of his first company, which he already plans to expand. Calhoun believes his client is destined to prosper. “Dave has the determination and persistence it takes to be a successful entrepreneur,” he said.
> Financial Projections > Access to Resources > Loan Application Preparation > Strategic Planning
Eisenreich credits Calhoun and the SBDC for keeping him positive during the most challenging times. “Ben is amazing,” he said. “He knows so much and worked hard on my behalf. He’s got great contacts that he uses to help you.” “Dave is the perfect example of the determination and persistence it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. From the start, he was willing to work hard and learn the new skills necessary to better position his business for success.”
Ben Calhoun, Area Manager and Business Consultant Greenwood Area SBDC
Approach: Consultant assisted in developing a business plan, preparing a pro forma financial projection statement and assembling a loan package.
With ‘$100 and an idea,’ Smith turned his passion for helping others into a business that now holds over $19 million in inventory. LTRG offers more than disaster relief; it is a convenient oneResults: stop-shop offering an array of support services • Capital Formation: $595,000 to the homeless, elderly and disabled. Smith’s • Jobs Created: 3 full-time most recent endeavor has been acquiring the • Jobs Retained: 3 full-time capital needed to purchase a larger building. Facing the daunting process of preparing a loan application and then finding the most receptive lenders, Smith contacted the Florence Area SBDC, where consultant Eddie Watson eagerly offered his assistance. Services Provided: Watson not only helped Smith prepare financial projections, a business plan and loan package, but he also set up a meeting between Smith and the SC Community Loan Fund.
> Business Plan Development > Financial Projections > Loan Application Preparation
> Business Expansion The fund believed in both Watson and his client’s vision and offered Smith a $595,000 loan—more money than he requested. Smith said that while a lot of people were telling him ‘no,’ the SBDC told him ‘yes,’ and that Eddie went above and beyond to make a real difference. Smith has since obtained full ownership of his building and hopes to turn one of his warehouses into a multi-faceted facility containing an emergency management center. With numerous partnerships across the state, he continually seeks opportunities to grow his business. “My gift is advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” he said. “I’m a new but effective CEO with “The SBDC went above and beyond. passion for the people.” Eddie calls me on his own time to follow up, he gives me pointers and advice, and he is patient. A lot of people in the community said ‘no’ when I asked for help, but the SBDC said ‘yes.’ They have made a real difference.”
dillon county long term recovery group
Before 2016, Kenneth Smith was the successful proprietor of DeVine Records Management. Then disaster struck when Hurricane Matthew ravaged the Dillon community, including the home of Smith’s mother. As locals struggled to rebuild, Smith realized that the impoverished areas were being overlooked, and outside aid was not forthcoming. So, Smith took it upon himself Industry: Disaster Relief and Recovery to bring relief and recovery to the region, channeling his entrepreneurial skills to create Challenge: Client wanted to expand his business, so he requested SC SBDC help the Dillon County Long Term Recovery Group with obtaining capital to buy a warehouse. (LTRG).
Florence Area SBDC Client - dilloncountyltrg.org
a new definition for “giving back”
Kenneth Smith, CEO Dillon County Long Term Recovery Group
the SC SBDC RESPONds TO COVID-19 T
he advent of the coronavirus in early 2020 thrust the SC SBDC to the forefront of the pandemic, compelling every member of the network to run at a full sprint to outpace the debilitating economic impact of COVID-19. SC SBDC consultants worked around the clock, serving as a cornerstone for small business owners by: Monitoring, vetting and curating COVID-related information, then delivering a distilled version to small businesses focusing on the issues most important to them; Explaining the details of EIDL/PPP and other funding relief programs and helping them submit comprehensive, compliant applications; Developing the SC SBDC’s “Operation Open Doors” toolkit, which provided clients both a chronological checklist and detailed manual walking them through the steps of safely re-opening and sustaining their businesses; Helping clients become more resilient by revising their business models and generating new revenue streams; Offering a robust series of online training webinars addressing emerging issues specifically impacting small businesses. Some of the SC SBDC’s clients flourished during this challenging time. Despite collapsing supply chains, employee shortages and service disruptions, these resilient clients remained laser-focused on overcoming obstacles, pivoting their business models and tapping into alternative revenue streams. Their inspiring stories begin on page 16.
operation open doors Tools for COVID-19 Recovery To help clients navigate the challenges created by the pandemic and make the right decisions for their businesses, the SC SBDC launched “Operation Open Doors,” in May. This three-prong initiative comprises a checklist that includes several selfassessments to help businesses gauge their fiscal fitness, resiliency, adaptability and future prospects. The Business Continuity Guidebook is a detailed companion piece to the Checklist that provides business owners the insight they need to decide if/when they should resume business operations, formulate a reopening action plan, address financial concerns and build long-term resiliency. The third prong of “Operation Open Doors” is the network of consultants who provide business owners ongoing assistance with completing the Checklist and Guidebook.
SC SBDC and Host Universities Help small businesses In 2020, the SC SBDC worked closely with its host universities (Clemson, South Carolina State, Winthrop and the University of South Carolina) to help mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic by implementing programs that supported the small business community at large while also benefiting faculty and students. Some of the most notable initiatives included: Hiring. Amidst hiring freezes, the universities helped facilitate the employment of essential staff so that critical services could be seamlessly delivered. Procurement. Host universities helped streamline the the purchasing of critical resources needed to maintain services authorized under the CARES Act.
Student Internships. Business schools worked closely with the SC SBDC to recruit students for internships at numerous SBDC centers. These internships expanded the network's capacity to help businesses recover and rebuild from the impact of COVID-19.
10,000 people attend covid training Adapting Your Marketing to the New Normal Business Sustainability During/After COVID Cyber Security For Small Business Improving Your Cash Flow Navigating CARES Act Funding Applications COVID Recovery: Reopening Your Business
intellectual property webinars In response to the special challenges relating to intellectual property (IP) the pandemic created for small businesses, the Charleston Area SBDC developed a dynamic, six-part webinar series to help the small business community recognize and mitigate IP threats including protecting core technologies, negotiating contracts and safeguarding their trademarks and copyrights. Each 60-minute session was led by an IP industry expert or the USPTO.
cybersecurity assistance program To help small businesses protect themselves against threats jeopardizing their operations in a virtual business environment, the SC SBDC launched an expanded Cybersecurity Assistance Program. The online training provides participants guidance on implementing a cybersecurity strategy that minimizes their exposure to destructive cyber threats. In recognition of the program’s success, the SC SBDC was selected to co-lead the development of a national cybersecurity initiative for SBDC networks throughout the country.
the six domains of basic cyber awareness
LINE-X OF THE CAROLINAS
Greenwood Area SBDC Client
PRE-CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SITUATION:
$150,000 EIDL LOAN
$63,000 PPP LOAN
Tina and Todd McNeil, owners of Line-X of the Carolinas, maintained a thriving business selling truck accessories, detailing services and trailers. Established in 1996, the Greenwood-based company has a large and loyal following of customers, and Tina credits the business’s success to establishing short and long-term goals and keeping financial records on-hand. CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: With the looming financial threat of a global pandemic, the McNeils recognized that they needed to utilize all financial resources to save their business and retain employees. During the spring of 2020, Tina learned of the Paycheck Protection Program bill. She knew that it was time to utilize these resources, but needed guidance to understand the finer points of the program. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY:
“I was trained as a nurse, and my husband was a welder. Neither of us had formal business training. We thank consultant Ben Calhoun and the SC SBDC staff for helping us understand the PPP and EIDL programs.” TINA M C N E I L OWNER, LINE-X OF THE CAROLINAS
Greenwood Area SBDC Manager and business consultant Ben Calhoun ensured the McNeils understood the specifics of the CARES Act loan programs. He went above and beyond by including the client’s CPA in these discussions, and as a result Line-X of the Carolinas was one of the first small businesses in the Upstate to receive a PPP loan. Tina McNeil used her downtime during the pandemic to streamline her operations and teach her employees new skills. Even though supply chain delays made it challenging for the business to maintain its stock and keep pace with consumer demand, trailer sales were keeping their business afloat. BUSINESS OUTLOOK: As a result of their adaptability and timely use of resources, the McNeils have been able to keep their business alive and sustainable. Moreover, the couple has positioned their business to flourish once the pandemic abates. Despite ongoing disruptions in their supply chain, the McNeils credit the funding they received to their optimistic outlook about future business prospects.
CAROLINA THERAPY SOLUTIONS FOR KIDS carolinatherapysc.org Rock Hill Area SBDC Client Woman-Owned Business Minority-Owned Business
$30,000 BELL PRIZE
$6,000 EIDL LOAN
$21,525 PPP LOAN
ANNUAL SALES INCREASE
“Kim is a remarkable CEO. She is a strong leader who balances compassion for her team with a strong strategic framework.” TO D D PH IL LI P S ROCK HILL AREA MANAGER
PRE-CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SITUATION: Kimberly Mood, CEO of Carolina Therapy Solutions for Kids, initially contacted the SC SBDC for help with developing a business plan—needed to compete for the BELL (Black Economic Leadership League) prize. Rock Hill Area Manager and Business Consultant Todd Phillips worked with Mood to develop a financial projection model justifying the addition of services and relocation to a more spacious, permanent office. CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Not long after Mood won the competition, the pandemic forced her to move her business to telehealth counseling. With the ability to provide in-person services restricted, Mood reached out once again to Phillips for help. Despite a significant decrease in client demand, they worked together to help keep her business viable. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY: The client and Phillips collaborated to developed an interim strategy that reallocated half of the BELL prize money to help Mood qualify for a secured loan. This tactic would not only provide much-needed cash but would also boost Mood’s credit rating and better position her to pursue expansion capital. To sustain operations, Mood converted her services to an online delivery model and worked with Phillips to apply for PPP and EIDL loans. Mood also used the lull in business to adapt her marketing plan, producing a modified brand strategy that included new logo treatments, website content and a refocused social media effort. The two hoped these steps would position the business for a successful re-launch once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. BUSINESS OUTLOOK: As restrictions eased in the fall, Mood resumed in-person therapy sessions and implemented her revised marketing program. Despite a global pandemic, Carolina Therapy Solutions for Kids posted a 19% revenue increase in 2020, with even more optimistic projections for the next few years. Mood anticipates that these achievements will enable her to implement her pre-pandemic growth strategy of expanding office space and offering a more robust range of client services.
HARRISON’S TRAVELS facebook.com/harrisonstravelsc Orangeburg Area SBDC Client Minority-Owned Business Woman-Owned Business HUBZone Certified
PRE-CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SITUATION:
$12,500 PPP LOAN
$34,000 2020 REVENUE
“Before the pandemic hit, business was pretty good,” said Harrison’s Travels owner Shawnta Harrison. In actuality, her business was thriving: the SBA HUBZone-certified boutique travel agency was expanding beyond the borders of the local community, clients were increasingly interested in traveling abroad and Harrison was serving a niche market with pre-packaged group tours. “Gross sales were at an all-time high,” she said. “I was expecting 2020 to be our best year to date.” CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
$25,000 SC CARES ACT GRANT
The pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions threatened the loyal customer base Harrison had worked so hard to build. To keep afloat, Harrison tapped into all financial resources available—but she needed more. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY:
“My SC SBDC consultant Pamela Free helped me locate the extra funding I needed for my business during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is always accessible and offers assistance in any way possible.” SHAWNTA HARRISON OWNER, HARRISON’S TRAVELS
In search of financial aid, Harrison contacted the Orangeburg Area SBDC, where business consultant Pamela Free explained the finer points of the EIDL and PPP funding programs as well as the SC CARES Act relief grant. Fortunately, Free had been monitoring the pandemic emerging overseas and advised Harrison to update and assemble essential business documents. This foresight enabled Harrison to submit applications to all three programs soon after they were announced, receiving a total of $71,500. Free also encouraged Harrison to think beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis and helped her prepare a business plan for years to come. BUSINESS OUTLOOK: Harrison projects a positive outlook for her agency. “Travel will rebound,” she said. “My phone is ringing constantly with clients rebooking their trips.” Free agrees that her client has a bright future. “Shawnta is quite business savvy and has taught me a lot about the travel industry,” she said. “Her business has grown tremendously and is a ‘true gem’ tucked away in Blackville, SC.”
URGENT CARE & FAMILY MEDICINE CONWAY urgentcareconwaysc.com Myrtle Beach Area SBDC Client Veteran-Owned Business
PRE-CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SITUATION:
NEW BUSINESS STARTED
FULL-TIME JOBS CREATED
With over 30 years of healthcare experience, physician assistant Darryl Valentine and his wife Sherri opened Urgent Care & Family Medicine Conway to deliver individualized, affordable healthcare. Prior to opening their facility in December of 2019, Myrtle Beach Area business consultant Bernita Platt helped the Valentines create a business plan, obtain a $25,000 commercial loan and officially launch their business. With her assistance, the business was seeing promising growth by early 2020. CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: COVID-19 created unforeseen hardships for the budding practice. Even when routine or emergency medical aid was needed, locals were skeptical of seeking treatment out of fear that they would contract the virus. This steep decline in patient visits hit the clinic’s bottom line hard, and the financial projections they had prepared with Platt only months prior now seemed an ambitious dream. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY:
“Working with Bernita Platt has been a joy. She was helpful from the beginning and pointed us in the right direction. We are so thankful for the SC SBDC and the job that they do.” DARRYL VALENTIENE OWNER, URGENT CARE & FAMILY MEDICINE CONWAY
Thanks to the COVID-19 awareness campaigns that Platt recommended and strict adherence to protective guidelines, patients gradually became more comfortable seeking treatment. The clinic now offers COVID-19 testing and the combined number of walk-ins and returning patients has surpassed prepandemic numbers. The Valentines mission is clear: always be available to tend to patient needs and treat people kindly. This standard has made the business the only 5-star rated urgent care facility in Conway, SC and one of the top-rated in Horry County. BUSINESS OUTLOOK: The Valentines and Platt are optimistic about the future of the practice. Although Urgent Care & Family Medicine Conway continues to face pandemic-related obstacles, they address emerging issues and adapt accordingly. “Although we did not receive CARES Act funding, Bernita persists in helping us identify and approach prospective lenders,” said Valentine. “The future for Urgent Care is bright,” Platt said. “Patients are raving about the superior level of care Valentine and his team provide.”
NEW IMAGE SALON facebook.com/www.portroyalnewimagesalon
Beaufort Area SBDC Client Woman-Owned Business
$22,000 EIDL LOAN
$6,272 PPP LOAN
“I was able to keep my business open because Martin helped me get muchneeded funds. He answered my questions and helped me complete all the necessary paperwork. Martin is a compassionate businessman and I am so grateful to him for helping me save the business that I’ve owned for 30 years.” MARGIE CATOE OWNER, NEW IMAGE SALON
PRE-CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS SITUATION: Margie Catoe, owner of New Image Salon in Port Royal, SC, has been a client of the SC SBDC for over 25 years. At the beginning of 2020 Catoe had three employees working under her, and her business was doing well. She had several operators renting booth space from her and was hoping for a record year of business growth. Unfortunately, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced non-essential businesses—including Catoe’s salon—to shut their doors with no clear end in sight. CHALLENGES ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Not only did the Governor’s mandatory shut down hurt New Image Salon, but it also affected the operators renting space in Catoe’s salon. Catoe was able to collect rent from some, but not all, booth renters, and this devastated her cash flow. Until the CARES Act was passed, she used personal savings to pay her building’s mortgage and utilities. RESPONSE AND RECOVERY: With non-essential businesses remaining closed for the foreseeable future, Catoe had limited options for sustaining her business. Fortunately, SC SBDC Area Manager Martin Goodman was able to assist Catoe in the EIDL and PPP loan application process, and with his help she secured nearly $30,000 in funds. Together these programs were invaluable in helping Catoe cover her recurring business expenses and employee salaries. In addition, Goodman provided information and advice for Catoe to safely reopen her business. “I meet with her often,” he said. “She is resourceful and resilient and has a great customer base.” BUSINESS OUTLOOK: Since reopening, Catoe has recovered much of her business and almost all of her booth renters are current and busy once again. She has taken many steps to operate a safe salon, including requiring appointments rather than allowing walk-ins and admitting only one customer per operator in the shop at a time. Catoe is diligently enforcing sanitation protocols, and she is confident that the majority of her business will soon return.