BY KATIE MATTESON
Start. Manage. Grow. That’s what the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside helped more than 300 small business owners and entrepreneurs do last year and for the 12 years they’ve been on campus.
The SBDC, located in Room D127 in Molinaro Hall, is part of a statewide network supporting entrepreneurs and business owners through no-cost, confidential consulting and targeted educational programs. The center is hosted by the College of Business, Economics, and Computing and UW-Extension.
Jim McPhaul, who joined the staff in 2011 as the interim director and became director of the center in 2012, also teaches Sales, Marketing and Entrepreneurial Principles at the university. He’s a retired banker, serving numerous roles for more than 30 years. His last position was as senior vice president of Bank of Kenosha. He holds an undergraduate degree and his MBA from UW-Parkside. He serves on a number of boards, including chairman of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation.
Mary Fischer-Tracy, who started part time in 2017 and moved to full time in 2018, serves as a business consultant for the center. She also owns Piccadilly, LLC, an antique, home decor and furniture store in Bristol, Wis. She has been in local banking for 20+ years, most recently as a loan officer for Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). She holds an undergraduate degree from UW-Eau Claire and an MBA from Capella University.
Rounding out the staff are two program assistants who are advanced university students. One assists clients with graphic design services at one-third of the market rate and the other assists clients with social media and marketing, as well as undertaking full administrative duties.
In addition to one-on-one consulting, the SBDC also offers business education, such as its First Steps to Starting a Business workshop. Fischer-Tracy offers the workshop, based on demand, every few months for just $10.
For a deeper dive, the eight-session Entrepreneurial Training Program takes new and existing business owners step-by-step through the development of a business plan based on the Lean Business Model Canvas framework. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) offers qualified applicants a $750 grant to offset the $1,000 course fee.
And once you’ve engaged the center for consulting or a class, you become a member of the SBDC family for life.
“People come back to see us when they need advice or simply when they want to share their success stories,” McPhaul said.
And through the years, McPhaul says he always tells his clients that “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”
Fischer-Tracy answers lots of questions during her consultations, drawing on her long career in banking and business. She’ll turn that advice in a column she’ll exclusively present each month in the Belle City Magazine, starting with the June issue.
“I’ve got lots of advice to share about business management, leadership, ethics and resources,” Fischer-Tracy said. “Being a small business owner is not easy…if it was, everyone would be one.”
To make an appointment for consulting, call (262) 595-3363. In addition to meeting clients at the SBDC office, Fischer-Tracy also hold office hours at Community State Bank in Union Grove.