Small Business Center to open at MCC

Ashley Roness
Star Staff Writer

Miles Community College (MCC) continues to grow with their recent additions of the Ag Advancement Center, the Workforce Readiness Center and now the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

More than 50 people gathered in the main lobby of MCC to witness the grand opening of the SBDC last Thursday.

The center, previously located in Colstrip, assists a nine-county region by offering experienced help to entrepreneurs. 

In addition to Custer County, the center will assist businesses and would-be businesses in Carter, Dawson, Fallon, Powder River, Prairie, Rosebud, Treasure and Wibaux counties. 

“Our regional office will help entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing education, guidance, feedback, information and technical assistance,” said MCC President Stacy Klippenstein.

“MCC’s promise is to extend our motto to this program: Start here, go anywhere.”

According to Chad Moore, SBDC state director, SBDCs help build  relationships across regions. 

“This isn’t just a Miles City thing; this is all of southeastern Montana and the region we serve,” said Moore. 

According to John Donovan of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBDC will help expand and bring new businesses to Miles City and southeastern Montana, as well as help save existing businesses that are struggling. 

While the job is difficult, SBDCs have established a track record of success. 

According to Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote, last year the SBDCs across the state counseled 1,000 businesses, helped launch 73 new businesses, and helped retain more than 600 jobs. 

“They’re a network of individuals who know where to go to help small businesses. If they don’t have the answers this network of 10 people know where to get the answers,” said Haxby-Cote. 

According to Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, Montana continues to rank number one in start ups. 

“It’s quality, free advice. We don’t charge a thing for it,” said Donovan. “A lot of times (SBDC) is the first and last stop for dreams to happen.” 

One of the many success stories from the SBDC comes straight from Main Street in Colstrip, where the Wagon Wheelz Cafe has prospered. 

Cafe owners Linette Silvernail and her husband Bill are celebrating a year since they opened the doors with the help of SBDC.

In 2016, the SBDC helped the Silvernails with their business plan and proposal. 

The SBDC at MCC will officially open at the end August with the newly hired Alex Evans serving as Miles City SBDC Regional Director.

Evans, who is originally from Forsyth, has a master’s  degree from Gonzaga University in business administration with a concentration in finance. 

The SBDC, was created in 1989 to offer free one-on-one advising to business entrepreneurs. It offers financial analysis, business planning, operations assistance, marketing and social media assistance, training, loan packaging assistance, and entrepreneurial development services.

The center is paid for in part through an agreement with the Montana Department of Commerce and the U.S. SBA. 

(Contact Ashley Roness at or 406-234-0450.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the the photo gallery Small Business Development Center for more photos)