SIU celebrates National Small Business Week

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — In recognition of National Small Business Week, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Office of Economic and Regional Development is sponsoring a variety of programs May 5-11.

First collaborative effort

“Although National Small Business Week is held every year, this is the first year that SIU’s Business Incubator Programs, Small Business Development Center and area chambers of commerce have partnered for a regional collaboration to advance small business in Southern Illinois,” Deborah Barnett, director of small business incubator programs, said. “With all of us working together, we provide everything businesses need to start, grow and succeed.”

The activities include online business educational sessions, workshops, the new Free Friday @ the Incubator event and more.

“We know that for many people, it’s the American dream to own their own business,” Greg Bouhl, assistant director of entrepreneurship and business development, said. “This week is a time to recognize that small businesses have been and still are vital to the economy of Southern Illinois.”

The schedule

Covering a wide variety of topics of interest to entrepreneurs and anyone interested in business, a virtual conference is set for May 7-8. Hour-long sessions will take place at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day.

Presentations include:

  • “The U.S. Economic Outlook and its Impact on Small Business.”
  • “SBA Funding Programs Explaining.”
  • “The Culture Imperative: Driver Growth with Customer Obsession.”
  • “Creating Effective Online Ads.”
  • “Making Sense of Online Marketing: A simple Checklist for Success.”
  • “How to do Business with the Federal Government.”
  • “Mastering Control of Your Cash Flow.”
  • “Disasters Happen – How to Prepare Your Business and Recover.”

The online workshops are free and anyone can participate, from home or office. You must pre-register at (click on the virtual conference tab).

Free Friday open to all

Everyone is welcome at the inaugural Free Friday @ the Incubator. Set for 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 10 at 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale, it offers the participants the opportunity to enjoy a personal tour of the business incubator space, use the co-working space which features free Wi-Fi, meet the business advisers and even stay for lunch.

The Grub Club @ the Incubator luncheon is at noon and there’s no cost for Free Friday or the luncheon. However, organizers ask that people sign up online in advance to enable proper planning.

“SIU’s Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center houses the only business incubator in the region and it is an exciting place to start a business,” Barnett said, as she encouraged people to come explore the facility for themselves.

“When people visit the incubator for the first time, they are surprised to find a supportive entrepreneurial community, affordable office and lab space, co-working memberships and direct access to free and confidential business services through the Illinois Small Business Development Center,” she said. “It really is a one-stop shop and THE gathering place for innovation and new ideas in Southern Illinois.”

Show support and win

Throughout the week, people can show their support for area small businesses by taking a series of five actions, making them eligible for a prize drawing.

The criteria include:

  • Taking the “Shop SI Pledge” to shop local.
  • Visiting a new business or one you’ve never been to.
  • Purchasing something from a locally-owned business.
  • “Liking” or “following a business in the region on social media.
  • Writing a positive review for a Southern Illinois business.

After completing the challenges, visit  to enter to win.

Other activities

Several other activities are planned during National Small Business Week, including:

  • Greater Centralia Chamber after Hours event, 5-7 p.m., May 7, Schwartz Orchard, 1942 Copple Road, Centralia.
  • Carbondale Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting at IlliniCare Health, 10 a.m., May 8, 1175 E. Main St., Carbondale.
  • Starting a Business in Illinois Workshop, 9-11 a.m., May 9, Illinois Small Business Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive at SIU, Carbondale.

To learn more

For the complete schedule of events, and additional information about SIU’s Office of Economic and Regional Development Office and the numerous services it provides to new and expanding businesses throughout Southern Illinois, visit, call 618/536-2424 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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