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In December, TW Design and Manufacturing in Montello, Wis., was in danger of being sold and relocated out of Wisconsin.

That was until Phil Florek, a senior business counselor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Small Business Development Center, helped employees develop a comprehensive business plan and a strategy for presenting it to local financial institutions and potential investors.

“There was a strong likelihood that the business and its well-paying jobs may have left Marquette County if we hadn’t helped them find financing,” said Robert O’Donnell, director of the UW Oshkosh SBDC.

With the SBDC’s help, a key employee of the full-service CNC machine shop was able to secure $1.4 million in financing to buy-out and expand the business.

This is just one of the several thousand businesses in East Central Wisconsin that has benefited from the SBDC’s services over the past 30 years.

Launched in 1980, the UW Oshkosh SBDC provides counseling and training services to new and existing businesses in seven northeastern Wisconsin counties, including Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Outagamie, Sheboygan, Waushara and Winnebago.

The SBDC connected with UW Oshkosh students through a capstone course called Business 455: Strategic Management.  Held during spring interim, the class allowed students to work with Florek and O’Donnell to develop strategic business plans for 12 of SBDC’s client businesses.

Mark Manske, a supply chain and operations management faculty member at UW Oshkosh, taught the course.

“With SBDC, it brings the community into the classroom and allows students to start adding value back to the community,” he said.

Manske said the course presented a great learning opportunity for the 43 students who enrolled, as well as for the businesses they serve.

“This puts into practice what they have learned through college and their own personal experiences,” he said.  “The goal is that they are able to help a real company develop a strategy and as a result be more successful.”

One business that participated in the class was Purely Poultry, a business owned by UW Oshkosh senior Tyler Danke.  Danke went to the SBDC in December 2009 to revise his business plan so it would be ready to show to loan officers, and has seen dramatic results.

“My sales have doubled from 2009 to 2010 and it is only May,” he said. “I would definitely recommend the SBDC to others because they can improve your business and give you an outside opinion on what you are doing.”

The SBDC is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Wisconsin Extension.

For more information on the UW Oshkosh Small Business Development Center, visit