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      Small businesses get big help

      Entrepreneurs in Northern Michigan are getting a helping hand from the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center.

      Free classes are held once a month regionally for anyone interested in starting their own business and learning more.

      The people who show up for the meetings typically already have a business idea they want to help grow.

      People 7&4 News spoke with said they saw gaps in the workforce and are trying to fill them with their own businesses.

      The entrepreneurs are given training on things like reducing risks, getting financial backing, and developing a business plan.

      Instructor Walter Muellenhagen told 7&4 News the organization helps entrepreneurs refine their ideas so they can succeed rather than having people go into debt over a failed project. He says it is a sign of the times that people are becoming more interested in owning their own business.

      â??More and more people, because of the economy and the opportunity, perhaps have the opportunity to think about starting their own business than when they may not have had the thought if they were fully employed and working five or six years ago,â?? said Muellenhagen.

      One class participant said she is passionate about owning her own business, so taking the class was a no-brainer.

      â??It's totally daunting, but if you take it one step at a time and you have a passion, you're going to be mad at yourself if you don't pursue it,â?? said Barbara Hutchens.

      Hutchens plans on getting assistance from a counselor to help with the financial details of her new business.

      The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center offers free one-on-one help from a business consultant. They also have more in depth classes you can sign up for.

      You can get more information about the classes and services they offer by visiting the Small Business and Technology Development Centerâ??s website.