The Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads (SBDC), an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, is pleased to announce it has been selected as the Commonwealth's Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Center by the U.S. Small Business Administration Richmond District Office. This award honors a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Service Center for excellence in providing value to small businesses and advancing program delivery and management through innovation. The timing of this award coincides with the SBA’s National Small Business Week (May 12-16), which recognizes outstanding leaders within the small business community for their contributions.
Jacqueline West, Acting District Director of the SBA’s Richmond Office, said, “I am extremely proud to highlight the SBDC of Hampton Roads as being the best SBDC Center in Virginia this year. The staff of the SBDC of Hampton Roads exemplifies the hard work, leadership and dedication it takes to win this prestigious award.”
Warren Harris, Director, Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, nominated the SBDC for this award. For nearly five years, the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development has partnered with the SBDC’s Early Education Small Business Mentoring Program to assist early education providers with the resources they need to evolve into well-functioning small businesses. Harris explained, “As a result of this program, business participants have not only positively impacted over 3,400 children annually ages 0-5 years, but have also adopted best business practices, leading to an increase of revenue and decrease in employee turnover. This program is a stellar example of the results that are possible when a Small Business Development Center takes an innovative and aligned approach to implementation of local economic development strategy.”
In 2010, the SBDC began working with the City of Virginia Beach’s GrowSmart initiative with the goal of improving financial stability of the centers, increasing marketing capability, reducing employee turnover and implementing best business practices. To date, 79 centers have participated in the SBDC Early Education Business Program, and those that have graduated from the program have increased their revenues by an average of 23% and enrollment by 29%. In April 2013, the SBDC and Virginia Beach Economic Development were honored with an Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Award at the Alliance for Innovation’s Transforming Local Government Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. This SBDC program began in 2009 through an innovative partnership with the city of Virginia Beach and a grant from Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads. The program has since expanded to serve the cities of Suffolk, Chesapeake and Norfolk.
SBDC Business Analyst Lauren Small, who leads the Early Education program, said, “Our research supports that early education is a workforce development issue. Those early years are when brain development occurs and are critical for setting children up for success in school and life.”
Jim Carroll, Executive Director of the SBDC, and Vice President of Small Business for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, said, “All of us at the SBDC are honored by the recognition of an outstanding program that was developed to meet the needs of the community. It is a fitting testimonial to Lauren Small and her team in the way they took a concept and developed it into a viable and successful program. We have taken this proven concept of operations and applied it to our Hampton Roads Retail Academy, as well as our Southeastern Virginia Contracting Institute, and are seeing similar successful outcomes.”
The SBDC and other award recipients will be recognized at the U.S. Small Business Administration Richmond District Office’s “Heart of a Champion” Small Business Awards Luncheon on June 13 at the Richmond Omni from 11am-2pm. For more, visit www.SBWVA.org.