• The Music Connection, Inc.


    Music Connection 2 
    Kaleidoscope Strings and Piano, offering music lessons for students of all ages, was founded in 2004 by Janet Kuester , a professional violinist, pianist, who has been a private music instructor for 30 years. The school opened with 60 students. In March 2007, Kaleidoscope Strings and Piano became The Music Connection to better reflect the mission and scope of Janet’s dream which was “to provide students of all ages with the skills they need to enjoy music for a lifetime and to develop the musical ability of each student by providing quality music education through private and group instrument instruction.”

    By April 2014 The Music Connection was serving over 500 students through its Orland Park and Frankfort studios.

    With the growth of The Music Connection of nearly 10 fold, Janet engaged and has continued to engage the services of the SBDC at GSU to further refine her business operations, plan for expansion, explore traditional and alternative financing for growth opportunities and get coaching help on the next steps for the Music Connection. The SBDC staff has facilitated successful strategic planning sessions with the staff of the Music Connection and Janet’s tireless volunteering role at the Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra which is composed of about seventy talented young musicians from Chicago's south and southwest suburbs.

    The SBDC staff meets regularly with Janet to brainstorm her expansion ideas and continue to help her refine her original business plan. Over the course of several years, Janet refines her business plan and is now in the process of a further expansion at the Orland Park studio. An early quote from Janet reminds all small businesses about the importance of a good business plan, crafted with the advice of the SBDC counselors –

    “Completing my business plan was invaluable in assessing the business now and for future growth. I know where I am and where I want to go. I thank the Illinois SBDC at GSU for their help.”

    Janet’s dream for The Music Connection is to provide quality music education, performance opportunities, self-reliance and self-discipline with family participation and sharing through music. As director of The Music Connection her goal is to mentor and encourage all teachers, students, and parents; while providing a learning environment rich in encouragement and positive motivation. It is her hope that The Music Connection will facilitate the development of each individual’s music ability while helping him or her experience the joy of music for the rest of their lives. To learn more about The Music Connection check out www.theconnection2music.com.

  • Automated Design Corporation


    Automated Design

    Automated Design Corporation began designing and building quality custom automation in 1985 for the automotive industry and quickly grew to design solutions for a great range of services and industries world-wide. Today, ADC is the world leader in sports research and development testing equipment, having provided solutions to every major sports manufacturer, including golf, tennis, baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball, etc. The company is located in Romeoville, IL. All the products are designed and built in the U.S. . They have successfully exported to overseas markets in Asia and Europe, reaching over $300,000 in exports per year.

    Since the STEP program launched, ADC has taken advantage of the program to visit with potential partners in China during March of 2012. The IL International Trade Center at Governors State University has worked closely with ADC. Ms. Ma helped the clients prepare the STEP application packet and assisted in coordinating the business trip agenda and the liaison with the State China office. Automated Design had a very successful international sales mission. They visited more than 10 business partners and potential buyers, with the support of the Office of Trade and Investment and the state of Illinois office in Hong Kong and Shanghai. During the trip, they acquired $7,000 in new orders. They estimate the export value will increase $172,000 in the next 12 months.

    Automated Design has utilized the SBA programs from day one, 26 years ago. They have taken advantage of SCORE programs, Export finance options and the new STEP program. Using the SBA allows them to compete with larger companies and promote American made products overseas. They made a video of ADC & SBA "Solutions That Work" and participated in the SBA video contest in 2012. Automated Design also obtained the 2013 Governor’s Exporter of The Year Award, presented by Governor Pat Quinn.

  • Labriola Baking Company



    For most people bread is one of life’s staples. For Rich & Stephanie Labriola it is a way of life. In 1989, tired of the poor quality of breads available on Chicago’s Southside, Rich quit his job to become an independent distributor of artisan bread. With passion and his old Ford Escort he had outstanding results. By 1991, he decided he could make better bread—and earn a better income by opening his own bakery specializing in quality artisan breads.

    Friends and family thought he was crazy, as he had no training or bakery skills. Heeding their warning he set about saving money and learning the business of baking bread. He spent weekends working for bakeries and went to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at GSU, (SBDC) to learn about the financial aspects of the business.

    With his wife and partner Stephanie, he met with counselors at the SBDC and worked with them to develop a sound business plan, which landed them the loan they needed to open the business. “You hear horror stories about opening a business.” Rich says, “The SBDC took the fear out of it."

  • PARC Corporation


    PARC Corporation was awarded the SBA "2012 Small Business Exporter of the Year".  PARC is headquartered in Romeoville and is a client of the Center. They have been in the plastics recycling business for more than 10 years. They market millions of products of various types of recovered plastics material each year, in other words, they export thousands of trucking loads to overseas annually. PARC Corp. is a certified minority owned business by the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council), ranking #6 in the North America Recycler in 2009.

    PARC’s Chicago location has one hundred twenty thousand square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space, which is supported by an SBA 504 loan. They ship the recycled products to and from Canada, Europe, South America and Central America, and other places worldwide.

    The International Trade Center at GSU has worked with PARC very closely since inception. Taking advantage of the export resources available from the federal and state government, they have increased their global sales, optimized their logistics management and improved their global marketing strategy. By the first half of 2011, PARC had increased their export volume to $17.5 million, including $15 million in exports to Asia, $1 million to Latin America, and $1.5 million to Canada. They have created 7 new jobs and retained 25 jobs because of their growth in 2011.