By Kelly Bell

 After Kilgore College (KC) Small Business Development Center (KCSBDC) Director Brad Bunt joined some other SBDC employees this spring in an exodus to another community college, KC took time to re-evaluate its focus as pertaining to small business development center outreach efforts.

            “Of concern was whether the model of indirect or non-education and training service delivery was still a good fit with KC’s mission,” said KC President Dr. Brenda Kays.

            This overhaul in priorities and return to being a direct provider of education and training procedures is the reason KC will be leaving the North Texas Small Business Development Center (NTSBDC) Network in September. After that point, the college will concentrate on supplying education and training to nascent business people in Gregg, Rusk and Upshur counties.

            “The college will continue to have a strong reciprocal working relationship with the NTSBDC Network, and anticipates further economic development assistance to small businesses,” said Kays.

            In 1990, KC joined the NTSBDC Network in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration with the aim of providing small business training and opportunities, but during the interim the emphasis on direct education and training services has diminished. Via its membership in the Network KC had been providing little education and only indirect services to the counties of Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Rusk and Upshur. Only three of these counties are within KC’s service area. The college will still be offering education courses and business software classes in support of entrepreneurs and local small business development.

            “Business Plan Development, Securing Start-Up Funding, Sales and Marketing; Navigating Legal Issues; Utilizing Social Media, E-Commerce and QuickBooks are just a few of the topics covered in courses developed to support entrepreneurs and small business development,” said KC Executive Dean Dr. Julie Fowler.

            The NTSBDC Network will still be maintaining counseling services and outreach throughout East Texas.

            “The North Texas SBDC Network is still very committed to maintaining close relationships and continuing to offer entrepreneurial assistance to small businesses in the market area,” said NTSBDC Network Executive Director Mark Langford. “The many community stakeholders and partners offer great support for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in East Texas.”

            Former executive director of the KCSBDC Brad Bunt and his team are working in cooperation with the North Texas SBDC.

            “My greatest joy has been working with the entrepreneurs and business owners of East Texas,” he said. “Our SBDC created real economic impact for the thousands of people we worked with over the years.”

            Bunt also points out how the KC center was recognized as Texas’ SBDC of the Year six times, and as best nationally three times by the American SBDC. Bunt and his team trained more than 4500 people on how to start and operate businesses in East Texas, and many of these are still in profitable operation 27 years later.

            “This is what brings a smile to my face, and our staff was always dedicated to going the extra mile to help them succeed. Best of all, we are proud of the jobs we created.”