The 10 Best Small Business Development centres In America

This article is by Tiffany BlackLou Dubois and Venuri Siriwardane

There are more than 900 small business development centres in the United States. Sponsored by the Small Business Association, these centres are often run in partnership with state and local governments, colleges, and the private sector.

Counselors are on hand to help an entrepreneur craft a business plan, fill out a loan application, or come up with a winning marketing strategy.

Click here to see the centres that stand out →
“The SBDCs exist to help entrepreneurs and small business owners obtain capital to support their companies, and make better decisions on key aspects of their business operations,” says Antonio Doss, associate administrator for the Office of Small Business Development centres, a group within the SBA that coordinates the program. “The advisors at the SBDCs work with entrepreneurs to make the necessary adjustments to establish a business that’s sustainable and profitable.”

SBDCs also assist companies in gaining access to capital—a service that has been particularly crucial of late. In 2009 and again last year, SBDCs nationally helped clients secure funding in excess of $3.8 billion in the form of debt, equity, and grant money. “It was surprising the amount of support SBDC’s were able to get in the area of capital infusion,” Doss says. “We expected to see a downturn the last two years but our business advisors were able to help clients get additional money because of the relationships they have in the lending community.”

To help identify the most active and innovative SBDCs around the country, a team of reporters interviewed 45 entrepreneurs and small business advocates. The centres that stand out provide exceptional support for their local entrepreneurial communities while at the same time they serves as national models for effective small business advocacy.

Click here to see the centres that stand out →


Photo: See an interactive version of this map at Inc.

This post originally appeared at Inc.

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An SBDC for First-Time Federal Contractors - Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia Small Business Development centre prides itself on its ability to help business owners navigate the daunting and complicated road to becoming a federal government contractor.

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An SBDC That Excels at Leadership Training - Atlanta

The Georgia State University Small Business Development centre provides excellent leadership training through the award-winning Kauffman Foundation's FastTrac GrowthVenture program.

They have helped hundreds of small business owners become better managers.

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A Local SBDC Sharing Resources Nationally - Boise, Idaho

To help small businesses nationwide--as well as counselors at other SBDCs--the Idaho Small Business centre at Boise State University has built a comprehensive website that links to a variety of helpful resources.

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An SBDC With a Unique Bank Partnership - San Bernardino, California

Located inside of a bank branch, the Inland Empire Small Business Development centre is California's largest SBDC, and one that prides itself on its ability to help clients gain access to capital.

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An SBDC Helping Businesses With Social Media - Council Bluffs, Iowa

The Iowa Western Community College Entrepreneurial & Small Business Development centre is a nexus of social media activity in the heartland.

Counselors teach business owners about social media, search engine optimization, and other rapidly changing online marketing strategies.

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An SBDC Focused on University Research - South Bend, Indiana

When the local RV industry fell on hard times, the North Central Indiana Small Business Development centre focused on helping businesses in the region spur innovation.

The centre's Pre-Seed Workshop is designed to help researchers at the University of Notre Dame commercialize their ideas.

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An SBDC Serving a Largely Rural Territory - Concordia, Kansas

North Central Kansas Small Business Development centre serves 11 counties with a population of about 125,000 people.

The SBDC's staff is helping farmers to diversify their revenue streams, bringing together women entrepreneurs, and providing training, mentoring and gap-financing for local businesses.

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An SBDC Helping Businesses to Export - San Antonio

By specializing in facilitating trade relationships across the Mexican border, the San Antonio Small Business Development centre has helped entrepreneurs to generate $181 million in export-driven sales.

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An SBDC That Focuses on Cash Flow - Vancouver, Washington

Financial literacy for entrepreneurs is at the heart of what Vancouver Small Business Development centre provides its clients.

The centre's 'Profit Mastery' series helps small businesses grapple with cash flow issues; the SBDC also works with business to find angels and other investors.

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An SBDC That Turned Things Around - Baltimore

The Maryland Small Business Development centre, Central Region went from one of the worst performing SBDCs in Maryland to one of the best.

A new director helped transform the centre in less than a year--and she is just getting started.

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Here's some advice any small business owner can use:

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