Elmore to lead Small Business Development Center

Elmore to lead Small Business Development Center

CHAMPAIGN — Don Elmore has been named director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, effective March 2.

Elmore, the co-owner of Jane Addams Book Shop in downtown Champaign, has held marketing and product management roles with several local companies, many of them technology-based. He also has been active in several civic organizations.

"Don has the best combination of small business operation and advising experience to operate the SBDC and provide business assistance to new and established small businesses," said Craig Rost, the executive director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center is housed in the economic development corporation's Champaign offices at 1817 S. Neil St. The center sponsors workshops and seeks to expand development opportunities for small businesses, including minority- and women-owned businesses.

"I've been interested in doing something like this for a long time," said Elmore, who has lived in Champaign-Urbana since his college days. "Throughout my career, I've had a lot of experiences, and I've used that in private consulting to help others who wanted to start businesses."

The Small Business Development Center offers counseling to people who operate businesses or want to start one up, and Elmore said the greatest amount of his time in his new job will be spent working with clients.

Rost estimated that 70 percent of Elmore's time will be in advising clients directly on small business startups and expansions, or connecting clients with professional services related to business development.

Elmore and his wife, Susan, have owned Jane Addams Book Shop since 2009.

He has also worked at several companies, most recently for The HDF Group as director of business development and communications. Before that, he was chief operating officer for Gcom, a network communications company in Savoy.

He also worked for Central Data Corp. as director of marketing, Human Kinetics as marketing manager for its academic division and for SLM Instruments in marketing and project management.

Several of those companies were later acquired.

"I had opportunities to move, but never had a reason that was good enough to make me leave here," Elmore said. "The longer I stay here, the more it confirms the decision to stay."

Elmore, who lives in Champaign, is also a former treasurer and president of the 40 North Champaign County Arts Council. He currently serves on the boards of directors for the Center City Partnership, which represents the downtown, midtown and Campustown areas of Champaign, and The Land Connection, a Champaign-based organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and community-based food systems.

"With this (job), I can help businesses and contribute to the growth and the health of the community," he said, pledging to make the center "the most accessible, effective resource in the community" for anyone wanting to start or expand a business.

Elmore succeeds Greg Gonda, who was director of the SBDC from 2011 to 2014.

Rost said 10 people applied for the position, and two were local experienced professionals with advising and economic development backgrounds. He said the new director's salary will likely start at $65,000, with "room to grow" after the first six months.

"We have a strong International Trade Center adviser in Kathie Cravens," Rost said. "With Don in the director role, we should be able to set a new standard for downstate SBDC performance."

The Small Business Development Center is paid for through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the University of Illinois and the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

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Topics (2):Economy, People