McLean County SBDC opens at Illinois Wesleyan University


EDC CEO Kyle Ham speaks during the SBDC launch event at IWU on March 1, 2017.

Published March 2, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— McLean County is once again home to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), providing consultation and training assistance to local entrepreneurs and small businesses

The McLean County SBDC will be housed on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University on the third floor of State Farm Hall, Room 354.  Regular hours for the center will be Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm., beginning on March 27, 2017.

The SBDC will support entrepreneurs as they strive to develop new business ventures and will serve as a resource to help existing businesses with growth and competition. Free business consulting and low-cost training services to be offered include: business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, disaster recovery assistance, procurement and contracting aid, market and customer research assistance, healthcare guidance, and support in the 8(a) Business Development Program.

Karen Bussone (right) will head the McLean County SBDC.

“Our team at the Economic Development Council saw the immediate need to have this type of support for start-up businesses and for existing businesses that are trying to grow in our community,” Bloomington-Normal EDC CEO Kyle Ham, said. “The SBDC is a critical piece of creating an entrepreneurial and business-friendly community.”

A previous SBDC at Illinois State University closed last year due to state funding cuts. However, the EDC indicated interest in applying for another center after conversations with Illinois Wesleyan and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce.

“Illinois Wesleyan is delighted to build upon our rich relationships with Bloomington-Normal,” Provost Jonathan Green said. “By providing the community with an accessible resource for professional support of small-business development, this will also provide numerous opportunities for our students to engage with the SBDC and to undertake a variety of internships and projects in support of local entrepreneurship.”

Heading the McLean County SBDC as director is Karen Bussone. A visiting professor of business administration at Illinois Wesleyan for the past nine years, Bussone has taught courses in marketing, management, entrepreneurship and financial management. She has incorporated business plan and marketing plan writing as semester-long projects and has developed student/service provider project opportunities from local small business and nonprofit sectors.

“Karen brings a wealth of business experience and a history of successful integration of academic work with business development,” said Green. “I am particularly excited with her appointment as director of the SBDC.” 

Prior to joining Illinois Wesleyan, Bussone worked for 21 years in marketing, strategic leadership, manufacturing operations and distribution for Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods and Dot Foods. With Kellogg’s, she launched several new products in various manufacturing facilities across the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Bussone also led Kraft’s divestiture efforts of the Parkay brand to Nabisco. She holds a bachelor’s degree in food science from Drake University, and an MBA from Western Illinois University.

Free parking is available in the parking lot next to the Hansen Student Center, 300 Beecher St. For more information, call (309) 556-3171 or email Bussone at

By: Zach Dietmeier, EDC & Kim Hill, IWU