ST. CLOUD -- After being closed for weeks, or only open to limited customers, this has been a very stressful time for small business owners trying to hold on to their dream.

There is free help available here in central Minnesota for any small business owner who needs it. The Central Region Small Business Development Center has been in St. Cloud for 45 years.

Currently, they are offering video and telephone conferences.

Regional Director Barry Kirchoff says it will be a tough road ahead, but he's optimistic that small businesses with a strong plan can make it.

Businesses that had strong balance sheets going into this and had some reserve funds are going to make it.  And also, businesses that look at new ways of marketing, new ways of moving their product, are going to be the future winners.

The Central Region Small Business Development Center has already been helping clients navigate the Federal Payroll Protection Plan and the EIDL Loan Program. He says they can also help owners with their messaging to their customers.

Giving some assistance with marketing ideas, and also new financial projections, helping them with restated cashflow statements and budgets.

Kirchoff says they define small businesses as 500 or fewer employees but they typically help businesses with up to 30 employees.

In 2019 the Central Region Small Businesses Development Center helped clients start 25 new businesses, and they helped them secure over $10 million in loans.

They serve Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties.

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