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MaryBeth Matzek: Free legal help coming to Milwaukee entrepreneurs


By MaryBeth Matzek
When starting a business, entrepreneurs are full of questions – financial, legal, marketing and more. A new program at Marquette University Law School will help small business owners get some of those answers.

The Law and Entrepreneurial Clinic will offer free legal help to entrepreneurs and business start-ups with a focus on clients who cannot afford legal counsel. Marquette law students will provide the services under the leadership of clinic director Nathan Hammons. He worked previously with entrepreneurs as a solo practitioner and was an adjunct professor at the college before joining it full-time to run the clinic and serves as a visiting clinical associate professor.

“I have a lot of contacts in the business community and kept hearing about the need for this kind of help,” Hammons says. “There’s a similar program in place in Madison using students from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and it made sense to do something like this here at Marquette. The response from the business community has been phenomenal.”

While the clinic won’t be operating at full strength until next September, there are a couple of students working under Hammons’ tutelage this semester.

“I’ve had more than 20 people call already asking for applications so they can receive our services,” he says.

New business owners deal with a variety of issues from deciding on what type of business entity to form, ownership issues, funding issues, contracts and licensure issues. For entrepreneurs with IP questions, Hammond says they will refer those cases out since it’s such a highly specialized field.

“Businesses face a lot of legal issues and I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs through my own legal work that needed help and couldn’t afford it,” he says. “This clinic will fill that need.”

The eight students working in the clinic will be assigned clients to work with. They’ll also receive credit.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain hands-on legal experience,” Hammons says. “The clinic is a great thing and will help a lot of entrepreneurs.”

Start-ups get boost

Eight entrepreneurs are receiving $75,000 each through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Advance Program, an initiative to provide capital to help commercialize high-tech innovation. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the UW-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) all partnered on SBIR Advance. This is the second round of companies supported; last fall, seven companies received SBIR grants.

Grant recipients announced this month include Radom Corp of Hales Corners, Northside Enterprises in Black Creek and six Madison companies -- NitricGen Inc., Swallow Solutions, AmebaGone LLC, Semba Biosciences, Medical Engineering Innovations Inc. and inseRT MRI. All winners receive CTC training and individualized assistance. CTC consultants and local mentors support recipients through Lean Startup training, commercialization plan development and review, matching products with market needs and other customized assistance.

Port of Green Bay reports strong 2014

The Port of Green Bay saw its strongest year since the start of the Great Recession in 2014 with the port handling 2.3 million tons of cargo – the most since 2007.

The 2014 total is a 3 percent increase from 2013 when 2.2 million tons of cargo came through. Increases in petroleum coke and petroleum products along with limestone helped drive up the totals for the port, which opened later than usual because of last year’s brutal winter.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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