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Where entrepreneurs go for assistance

Center provides consultation, workshops, resources for business owners

JOLIET — The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Joliet Junior College is an excellent resource that offers management consultation, as well as resources and workshops, to entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business or expanding an existing business.

Business analysts at the Illinois SBDC at JJC provide one-on-one counseling sessions to entrepreneurs at no charge. Clients may schedule an appointment to meet with an analyst to receive assistance.

The business analyst discusses topics specific to a client’s business, provides feedback and answers any questions. Some of the key areas include: writing a business plan, loan package preparation, developing a marketing plan, preparing financial projections and more.

The Staff

The Illinois SBDC at JJC has three business analysts on staff: Brad Easter, Joe Giunta and Runisia Henry. They are available to meet by appointment. Each has a great deal of knowledge and professional business experience in addition to individual expertise in specific areas.

Easter has been a business analyst for almost two years and really enjoys helping people to accomplish their dreams of owning a business. His areas of expertise include sales and marketing, banking and finance, investments and business planning.

He said, “All of my experience helps me when clients are going through the business planning process to make sure that they cover all the bases and make accurate financial projections.”

Giunta has served as a business analyst for about three years and also has experience as an entrepreneur. He used to work as a freelance graphic designer and owned a design firm for four years.

In addition, Giunta has management experience and a diverse professional background since he worked for manufacturers, advertising agencies, PR firms, publishers and community colleges. He has expertise in marketing/communications and public relations.

He said, “I try to stay current on trends and new ideas so I can help my clients develop solid content for a variety of marketing outlets.”

Henry has served as a business analyst for over a year and has expertise in areas such as business management, executive coaching, organizational development, business plan development, budgeting and finance and strategic planning. She too has experience as an entrepreneur and is dedicated to helping her clients succeed.

Henry said, “I encourage innovative thinking, team effectiveness and leadership development while consulting with all levels of an organization with the ability to design and implement strategic plans.”

The Services

For companies that require specialized attention, the Illinois SBDC at JJC also serves as a referral source to a variety of specialized professionals and consultants. Many consultants provide free or low-cost initial consultation meetings.

The Illinois SBDC at JJC website also provides a variety of links to online resources such as governmental agencies and handbooks to provide clients with additional assistance for their business.

The Illinois SBDC at JJC also provides an interesting selection of workshops throughout the year. These workshops provide training opportunities for entrepreneurs about various topics that range from starting a business and writing a business plan to using social media and other marketing strategies to promote a business. Prices vary per workshop; some of the workshops are free or offered at a minimal cost.

For instance, the Starting Your Business in Illinois workshop is offered free of charge on a monthly basis. This seminar helps future entrepreneurs understand many of the steps and requirements of starting a small business in the state of Illinois. This workshop covers a variety of topics including creating a business plan and forms of incorporation. 

The Successes

The Illinois SBDC at JJC has already assisted numerous clients with the start-up or expansion of their business. Melza Jordan, owner of Sinelabs Studio, Inc. in Joliet, Illinois worked with Business Analyst Runisia Henry to assist with the expansion of his business.

He received assistance with developing a business plan as well as assistance with preparing a loan package. Jordan had a very positive experience with utilizing the Illinois SBDC at JJC as a resource.
He said, “It was very helpful and pointed me in the right direction.”

Joan Carrigan, owner of EmbroidMe® in Naperville, Illinois met with Business Analyst Brad Easter to gain an understanding of how to put together a business plan. He also referred her to consultants in the areas of accounting, insurance, finance and legal so that she could assemble her business team.

Carrigan stated, “The SBDC at JJC was very helpful because it made sure that I was prepared. I was given a lot of information that I never thought of.”

According to Amy Murphy, director of JJC’s Corporate & Community Services, the Illinois SBDC at JJC truly is a valuable resource for the community.

“The Illinois SBDC at JJC is here to help entrepreneurs. We hope that local business owners take advantage of the resources available to them by utilizing the services of our center.”

She continued, “Our staff takes tremendous pride in assisting entrepreneurs reach their dreams and become successful in their business.”

Business Analyst Joe Giunta added, “It is always exciting to meet people with a dream and the desire to make it real. Helping people make those dreams happen is very rewarding.”

To learn more about the Illinois SBDC at JJC or to schedule an appointment with a business analyst, call (815) 280-1400, email or visit

The Illinois SBDC at JJC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Joliet Junior College.

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