SIX government-funded Business Enterprise Centres are likely to fold after being told they have been unsuccessful in tendering for the service.
The centres provide small businesses with largely free advice around business planning, compliance and management - and counts Pennicott Wilderness Cruises, a former winner of Australia's Best Tourism Attraction and Australia's Best Small Business awards, as a prominent success story.
The centres based in St Helens, Kingston, Hobart, Devonport and Clarence employ about 10 people, with their employment now in jeopardy.
For David Cleary, who has managed the Kingborough Community Enterprise Centre for 15 years, it was a tough letter to receive.
``It was very disappointing,'' Mr Cleary said.
``We always believed we provided a very high standard of service to the area . . . we want to know where our applications didn't meet the standards required.''
Mr Cleary said it was hard to understand when Economic Development Minister David O'Byrne was ``always actively supportive of the service''.
Mr O'Byrne has not yet revealed the successful tenderer.
Two of the eight centres - Launceston-based Business and Employment North and the Braddon Business Centre in Burnie - did not receive an unsuccessful letter.
Break O'Day centre manager Nick Crawford said any move to centralise services would be a shame.
``I am concerned that a new operator would not be operating from the East Coast and therefore not understanding the make-up, the issues, the problems facing East Coast businesses,'' Mr Crawford said.
``The whole thing is very disappointing for everyone involved.''
Parliamentary secretary for small business Rebecca White previously called the centres a ``key initiative of the Tasmanian government's support to Tasmanian small business'', and said over a nine-month period they had helped ``more than 2500 clients, resulting in 610 new jobs and $8.2 million in business investment''.
The centres also feature several times in the government's regional economic development plans.
A department spokesman said preferred tenderers had been identified for service, but details would not be provided until contracts had been signed.