Day Shelmire, hired as director of the UT Tyler-Longview Small Business Development Center in February, said he has seen a lot of results since the center reopened in May.

Shelmire, formerly vice president of Frost Brokerage Services in the Dallas area, said he brought back former small-business adviser Virgel Conner in May.

Since then, the SBDC has provided 500 counseling hours, helped five businesses get started, helped to create 17 jobs and made possible $325,000 in capital formation, Shelmire said Tuesday during a presentation to the Longview Rotary Club at Pinecrest Country Club.

Shelmire, who grew up in Dallas but has family ties to Longview, said he has been making the rounds of Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs in recent months in the SBDC’s service area of Gregg, Harrison, Rusk, Upshur, Panola and Marion counties.

Shelmire’s arrival filled a void since Kilgore College severed its 27-year tie with the off-campus center in 2017. Several economic development and public officials campaigned three months later for the University of Texas at Tyler to take over the center, and UT Tyler reopened it in Suite 209 in the Austin Bank building at 911 W. Loop 281.

“There are thousands of small business development centers all over the country,” Shelmire told the Rotarians and guests. He said the center provides one-on-one advising at no cost.

“We are sort of an ag extension service for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” he said.

He stressed the significance to the national economy of small businesses that have 250 or fewer employees but account for 48% of the American workforce.

Small businesses also tend to be more “nimble” than corporations, Shelmire said. “They can create jobs a lot quicker.”

Shelmire said clients of SBDCs “run the gamut,” from electricians to small manufacturers.

He said the center helps clients with marketing strategies, accounting and records systems, restructuring and other aspects of their operations.

However, he said, “We don’t advertise. We don’t have an advertising budget.”

Responding to a question Tuesday from the audience, Shelmire said Apple and Walmart started as small businesses, adding the next Apple could start in Longview.

Shelmire received favorable reaction from attendees.

Gary Taylor, executive vice president of Texas Bank & Trust downtown, said the SBDC is a”great resource” for Northeast Texas.

“I highly recommend them,” Taylor said. “The banks work hand-in-hand to support business growth and employment.”

Mindy Stephens, CEO of a home-based graphic arts firm bearing her name, said she wished she had consulted a SBDC before she launched her business three years ago. She said she took a small-business certification course through Tyler Junior College and plans to reach out to the SBDC here to learn how to market her business locally.

The SBDC is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Appointments are required and may be made by calling the center at (903) 757-5857.