The State of Oregon is considering reducing or eliminating funding for the 19 Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) providing support to small businesses in the state. In my opinion, removing or even reducing support to the SBDCs (and as I understand it, a 15% cut in Oregon Community & Economic Development Department funding would effectively eliminate SBDCs) would be a mistake at a time when the economy is doing poorly, and our need is greater than ever to maintain successful businesses and family wage jobs. Three recent experiences highlight significant reasons to continue support for the SBDCs.

1. I am the owPhoto of Johnner of a small research and development company in Lincoln County, Oregon, which I brought here in 2007. My original goal was strictly to do consulting, but through my participation in the Small Business Management program provided by our local SBDC, I realized I could do more for the community and myself by growing my business to add family wage jobs with benefits, a process I have begun. Take away our SBDC, and I would still be a one man consulting company.
2. Seventy people attended a workshop recently sponsored by our local SBDC on the use of social networking technology to help businesses grow. This meeting followed a successful workshop in December attended by the same number of people on optimizing web sites to increase customers. Take away SBDC, and 70 businesses would lose out on the training needed to keep them competitive in an increasing technological business world.
3. Leaders in Lincoln County are pursuing an initiative to bring technology businesses here. We believe such businesses would consider such relocation if they find a skilled workforce, good housing and services, strong education, and a healthy business climate. Take away SBDC, and the state damages the business vitality of the region, thereby impeding the ability of Lincoln County to attract technology businesses.

In short, SBDCs are a key part of bringing Oregon out of the recession. They provide business development services adapted to the region simply not found in any other program. SBDCs were created in a previous time of recession to grow business in Oregon, and they continue to do this. The investment the state makes in SBDCs has been returned many fold and will continue so by receiving matching federal funds resulting in increased jobs and revenues, as long as the state continues to provide its full support. Remove support for SBDCs and we will have shrinking small businesses, lost jobs, and a stagnant small business climate in Oregon for years to come.

I wrote this blog after providing testimony on the subject to the Oregon State Joint Ways and Means Committee on April 20, 2009. This was a new experience for me, appearing in a packed room with 200 other citizens, and was quite surprised when my two minute testimony was reported on Oregon Public Radio, along with testimony from a representative from the Forestry Department that included a vocal rendition of the “Smokey the Bear” song.

4 Responses to “Why we should fund SBDCs (especially) in tough economic times”

  1. on 01 May 2009 at 10:07 amR Kent Hanrahan

    Hey John. Forgot to mention how SBDC supports SCORE clients…huh???!!!

  2. on 01 May 2009 at 1:04 pmCraig Grant

    John, well said. Thanks for taking the time to testify and post your blog. Oregon boasts of its economic strategy to inspire and grow small businesses, yet it contemplates withdrawing support from the primary agency that makes this happen. Seems to me our governor and legislators need to sort themselves out on this issue. I don’t think our legislators get it. Craig

  3. on 11 May 2009 at 1:23 pmMary Merrill

    I am the director of the SBDC in The Dalles, Oregon at Columbia Gorge Community College. This month our SBDC will be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration for our exemplary service to our clients in 2008.

    During the calendar year of 2008, our business counselors were able to secure $ 8,808,239 in business financing for 60 businesses in the Columbia Gorge Region. Sixty businesses benefited from our team of business counseling experts and were able to start or expand their businesses as a result.

    It is beyond my comprehension why the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department would make a recommendation to eliminate funding for the Oregon Small Business Development Centers. Their small investment of $41,322 in our SBDC has been leveraged into over $8.8 million in capital for our local business community, 203 jobs created, and 34 business starts.

  4. on 06 Jun 2009 at 11:31 amRon Spisso

    Thanks for taking the time to testify on behalf of the Small Business Development Centers in Oregon. Your preparation and delivery made a real impact on our state legislators and it appears at this moment that partial funding will be restored. I am continually impressed by your energy to marshal resources to get a job done. The newly formed Lincoln County Technology Solutions Alliance owes much of it development to your ability and leadership. Lincoln County has really gained from your decision to join us here on the central Oregon Coast.

    Thanks for your efforts
    Ron Spisso
    Small Business Management Coordinator
    Oregon Coast Community College

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