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Illinois SBDC helps client launch axe throwing business in Highland

With the help of the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Metro East at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, The Game Yard in Highland is open for business.

Seven business partners used their ingenuity and saw the need for fun, engaging entertainment for the local community. In August 2021, they began working with the SBDC and brought their idea to reality.

“You don’t realize how in-depth the process is when developing a small business,” said Mike Hannah, one of The Game Yard’s business partners.

Another business partner, Tyler Kathmann, added, “The SBDC helped shine a light on business decisions. It has been a blessing, and the town has been super supportive.”

The Game Yard is designed to provide a one-of-a-kind environment including an immersive axe throwing experience with projection targets. In the future, it will also offer the community various types of backyard games.

“I am so excited for The Game Yard and its partners,” said SBDC Director Jo Ann Di Maggio May. “It was a pleasure to help secure the financing to bring this business to fruition. I look forward to assisting the business as they grow in their operation. It has been a journey, but they have worked hard and persevered. The SBDC and I are proud to be a small part of the process.”

For more information about the Game Yard call (618) 882-4340 or visit

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures like The Game Yard and existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington Monroe, and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating, and retaining new jobs, and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research, and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn about the SBDC, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

Shown: The Game Yard recently celebrated its opening, thanks to help from the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE (Photo courtesy SIUE/SBDC).


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