Small Business Development Center at SU Serves Eastern Region's Small Businesses and Start-ups

The Small Business Development Center at Salisbury University is part of the Maryland SBDC Network and an accredited member of the National SBDC Network. It serves the Eastern Region’s small businesses and start-ups from Kent County to Worcester County. Located on the East Campus of Salisbury University, the Center also has an office at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, the Economic Development Office in Cambridge, and additional counseling locations in Berlin and Snow Hill, MD, to offer convenience and assistance to clients in those areas. The small business counselors regularly meet with owners and entrepreneurs to build and implement their business ideas. The office specializes in writing and editing business plans, projecting cash flows, and assisting in marketing, and supporting effective operation management.

Small business owners often are overwhelmed with the operations and management of their businesses. The educated and experienced counselors at the SBDC help these owners understand the needs and direction their company should take. The services of the SBDC are free to their clients and are helpful to thriving business, startup companies and those who are struggling in how to take their next steps. The Small Business Development Center currently has four counselors, Tim Sherman, Sumathy Chandrashekar, Mike Bloxham and Rich Loeffler, who are willing to help any individual or business that believes their services will be useful. The office also employs Francesca Hedrick and Karen Spignolo, who offer administrative assistance, Brooke Berezowski, who is the training coordinator, and Brooklyn Galloway, who is a full-time graduate assistant.

Annually, the Small Business Development Center positively affects the local economy and provides a noticeable effect to the businesses that they counsel. Last year, the Center met with 282 new clients for a total of 3,800 counselor hours. With the assistance of the business counselors, 24 new businesses were created. The SBDC also provides training events that impacted the community and last year attendance reached 568 participants.

The effect of these engagements also improves the day-to-day operations of the businesses and helps businesses retain customers and increase profits long-term. The Small Business Development Center helps their clients understand their target market and introduces new ways to gain brand recognition and awareness of their services in the community. The Center also works to prepare companies for the loan approval process and assisting in applications. Last year, the SBDC assisted in small businesses receiving a total of $6,164,749 in loan and equity capital. Business research is also invaluable and the SBDC can provide information concerning specific industries and standards that these companies should work to attain.

The Center is run by Director John Hickman, who also teaches Small Business Consulting in the Perdue School of Business. Every semester, the students in his consulting class collaborate with a counselor and a local small business to assist and complete a project to help that business. Students work on an assortment of engagements from providing assistance in marketing efforts to compiling economic development incentives. Some groups have proposed recommendations to businesses that were implemented before the conclusion of the project and this allowed them the unique opportunity to see the effects of their work and the outcome of such decisions. Semester-end surveys reveal that the business owners are consistently impressed with not only the results of the project but also the professionalism and communication skills of the Perdue School of Business students. Last year, the Center completed eight projects and worked with 45 students.