Posted at CDA Press: Sunday, February 16, 2014

Recruitment and retention are critical components of economic development. But when it comes to more and better jobs, it’s hard to beat creation.

North Idaho is blessed with several powerful job generators: Jobs Plus, Inc., headed by Steve Griffitts; Panhandle Area Council, directed by Greg Cook; and an entity that does amazing work on the economic development front but perhaps doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

SBDC Team Photo 01_03_12We’re talking about the North Idaho Small Business Development Center, located in the North Idaho College Workforce Training facilities in Post Falls just west and south of the outlet stores.

The NISBDC is directed by Bill Jhung, who has started two successful businesses and rescued two others. He has built manufacturing facilities and guided an international relief and development agency. Little known fact: Bill was also a world-class rugby player once upon a time, helping lead his underdog club to the U.S. national championship.

Not surprisingly, then, the team Jhung has assembled at the center is an all-star cast. In the past two weeks, North Idaho Business Journal reporters have attended two of the center’s workshops; one on exporting, led by George Atchley; the other on restaurants, taught by Mike Wells. You’ll read about both workshops in the next issue of North Idaho Business Journal, but you’ll have to take our word for it that Atchley and Wells could be doing just about anything they want, anywhere they want – as could Jhung – but they all choose to be right here, helping North Idahoans start businesses or improve them. Same goes for business coaches Don Bennett and Julie Gibbs, too, with capable assistance from Susan Bauerle.

The center’s coaching experts are available to you, at no charge, to help you tackle your biggest business challenges. Because the center operates under an umbrella funded by North Idaho College, the state and the U.S. Small Business Administration, superb training is available at low cost. Even the center’s business acceleration series – classes on marketing, managing people and operations, financial management, and advanced planning – cost just $39 each. Check out idahosbdc.org for schedules of these and other low-cost classes.

By its own estimates, the North Idaho Small Business Development Center in 2012 created or saved 303 local jobs. It raised $7.5 million in capital and increased revenue $11.6 million. In our estimation, the center’s impact has the potential to go from impressive to profound.

We encourage you to find out how this tremendous resource can help you and your business thrive. Call the center at 665-5085 or visit the website at idahosbdc.org.

We’re all on a mission for more jobs with better pay. North Idaho will lose the jobs war only if we don’t avail ourselves of the great tools at our disposal.