Demand at all-time high at Harper's Small Business Development Center

  • Tom Cassell

    Tom Cassell

Updated 3/19/2018 7:44 AM

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Harper Professional Center in Schaumburg continues to make a significant positive impact on the local economy.

The center helps hundreds of local small businesses every year from someone who has an idea for a home-based business to an established company in need of capital to finance their next stage of growth. "The demand for our services is at an all-time high. We've never been busier," said Tom Cassell, center director.


The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper College provides no cost consulting and training for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help owners achieve marketing, financial and operational success. Many companies need expert help most when they are still small and can least afford it. All services are paid for through a partnership between DCEO, the Small Business Administration and Harper College.

Over the past two years, the SBDC team at Harper has help launch 50 new companies and advised nearly 500 local businesses and entrepreneurs in the western suburbs.

"I think we have one of the best teams in the country. Clients appreciate that all of our advisers have real world experience running their own small businesses," Cassell said. The center has six advisers, all business owners themselves, who specialize in different areas of business and work closely with clients to find solutions that work best for them.

"We've recently added advisers with expertise in government contracting, woman and minority business certification, e-commerce, crowd funding, website creation and human resources," Cassell said. "If you own a small business or are thinking about starting one, we can help."

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Some of the centers recent successes include Play and Thrive, a 41,000 square foot, integrated sports and recreation facility located in Schaumburg and Omni-Rinse whose patented system of rinsing for the Bar industry just won Kitchen Innovations 2018 Award presented by the National Restaurant Association.

In addition to business advising, the center has partnered with Lavelle Law and Porte Brown to offer clients access to free legal and tax guidance. They also host a variety of workshops to help small business owners start and grow, such as email and digital marketing, starting a business, crowd funding, tax strategies and more.

New for 2018, they will be offering two new peer-to-peer business advisory groups in the spring. The group will meet twice per month. The mission: fellow business owners, who face similar challenges, can provide objective advice and help you stay accountable. Cassell will moderate the group for startups.

'The plan is to create a supportive environment where we help each other identify problems and share solutions. For some business owners, this means breaking through personal obstacles to move their business forward. "

They've recently added a fast and easy online schedule system where clients can see advisers' specialties and book an appointment right from their smartphone.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper College is located at 650 E. Higgins Road, Suite 18N, Schaumburg. To learn about the programs mentioned and to schedule an appointment on line, visit and follow the links for the Small Business Development Center.

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