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EDA gives money to small business center

The Suffolk Economic Development Authority voted Wednesday to give $5,000 to the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center.

The contribution occurs annually, members of the authority said. Jim Carroll, executive director of the center, was on hand to tell the authority exactly what the center does and what it plans to do in relation to the potential U.S. Joint Forces Command closure.

According to Carroll, a potential 10,000 people in the region stand to lose their jobs, including about 2,200 employed at the Suffolk command, if it were to close. Those who aren’t relocating or retiring may get the idea to branch out on their own in the modeling and simulation business, which Carroll said would be a bad idea without extensive training.

“That’s probably the most dangerous route to take,” he said.

The center is looking into the option of developing an extensive start-up course, perhaps in partnership with local community colleges, to help potential entrepreneurs anticipate actual overhead costs, build a customer base and avoid other potential problems.

The center also is working with existing businesses of all types to plan for the potential closure. Retaining existing customers, drawing in new customers and obtaining needed loans all are difficult tasks in the midst of an unpredictable economy, Carroll said.

Making matters more difficult is the indecision over whether JFCOM actually will be closed.

“Until the decision is made and announced, we’re kind of in limbo,” Carroll said. “We’re going to lean forward as far as we can.”

The EDA approved the transfer unanimously. The money already was budgeted with the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center in mind, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said.