City Hall

Since You Gotta Spend Money to Make It, City Looks Outside For Help Growing Small Biz

Far as Dallas City Hall's concerned, it's hard out there for a small start-up, which is why it's spent years loaning and granting money to businesses via, say, the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund and the Southern Dallas Development Corporation, both of which have suffered their share of sputters since their respective inceptions. And so the city tries again, this time by looking outside for help -- to Kansas City, home of the Kauffman Foundation, which, in '03, helped launch something called KCSourceLink aimed at linking small-business would-bes with resources who could help them turn concept into profit.

In nine years the SourceLink concept has taken spread far and wide, from Alaska to Florida; in some cities it's been branded as an "Entrepreneurial Empowerment Center" partnered with the Urban League, while in some states it's been launched with a government kickstart. Either way the intention is to link small-biz operators with resources (from nonprofits to private corporations to universities to other government agencies) to which they might not otherwise have access, either through the website or a simple phone call. As Maria Meyers, network coordinator for U.S.SourceLink, explained to Chicago Business in '07: SourceLink came into being in 2003 because ...

"There was a strong perception that there were a lot of resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but they couldn't find them. A lot of groups, nobody knew about. Every one of these organizations was fairly well-niched in what they do. The entrepreneur would call one or two or three of them, find out they couldn't help, and would give up."
Tomorrow the city council's Economic Development Committee will be sold on the concept, in the hopes it will recommend the full council spend $750,000 (in $150,000-per-year increments for five years) out of Public/Private Partnership funds to buy into SourceLink (meaning: license the software, for starters). But that only covers half of the expenses; says the briefing prepared for tomorrow's meeting, the rest will be provided by an unidentified "funding partner match."

The city would initially run it, after which EcoDev and "founding funding partners" (again, not ID'd) would organize a nonprofit corporation to administer the program and hold on to whatever money it comes into.