Posted on Mar 19, 2018
President Paula Brahan presided over today’s meeting.
Mike Ratliff thanked Erin Granberry who gave the invocation and Bill MacLauchlan who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. He also thanked Leanne Cross and Bill Dabney for serving as our greeters today.
Mike Ratliff welcomed our visitors. Haley White is a guest of Chris Dunkly, Monica Tissack Kathmann is a guest of James Mitchell. 
Paula thanked those who have signed up to work Hub Fest this year. The event is coming up on Saturday, April 7th.  Four volunteers will work the morning shift and four more the afternoon shift. She also noted that several members have volunteered to serve on the One-Hundredth Birthday Celebration Committee. A program, a date and menu selections are needed for this event.
The Fund Raising Committee reported that they will be planning a Signature Event next spring. Later this spring the committee plans on an apparel sale which may not raise much money but will certainly spread the word about Rotary. In the fall they are proposing that the club host a fresh fruit basket sale. More details on these events will follow.
Erin Granberry has volunteered to take over as the Program Chair. Paula thanked her for her service.
Paula then introduced today’s guest speaker, Rita Mitchell Waldoff. Rita is a Counselor with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center housed at the University of Southern Mississippi. The primary mission of the SBDC is to help you put your business idea through a cash flow threshold to see if it will make it as a business or if it will remain just a hobby.
The SBDC is a spin-off from the Small Business Administration. During the Regan era, his administration thought that the SBA needed more boots on the ground to help small businesses that were failing at an alarming rate.  Today the SBDC is in 62 states and territories. Funding for the program comes from federal and state governments and from host universities.
Rita says the primary purpose of the organization is to help business dreams come true and to help keep business nightmares from coming true. The bedrock of the organization  is the workshop events. These are free to those who register through the program and are held every Tuesday evening on the USM campus. Workshop sessions include “Starting a Business – First Steps,” “How to Develop a Business Plan,” “Cash flow Projections for Your Business Plan,” and, “Thinking Like an Entrepreneur.”  Counselors and Instructors for the SBDC come from various backgrounds, however, they all must have owned a private business or been an entrepreneur.
The SBDC is also in a position to assist new start-ups with loan packages and are in a position to offer customized training at no or low costs for target markets and well as providing resource materials to help you through your first year.
The SBDC in Mississippi helped start 220 new businesses in Mississippi last year. The Center also provided more than 8,300 hours of consulting and training to potential new start-ups. They maintain that, through their efforts, $3.48 has been given back to our state’s economy for every $1 of government funding provided.
To learn more about the SBDC visit their website at or call them at 601-266-5892.
With no other business or announcement Paula adjourned the meeting with our motto, “Service Above Self.”