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South Centers

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Endeavor Center and Business Development Network Achievements

By: Ryan Mapes, Business Development Network Program Leader and Endeavor Center Manager

Endeavor Center

2017 has been another successful year for the OSU Endeavor Center business incubator. The center operated at a 100% occupancy rate for most of the year.  During the year we had a couple partners leave but were fortunate to have new partners ready to come on board to fill the vacated offices.  State Street Laboratories is the latest business to become an Endeavor Center partner.  The Endeavor Center also partnered with the African American Chamber of Commerce to house the minority SBDC that covers the Southern Ohio Region. There has also been much activity and many visitors through the doors this year.  We hosted over 400 training or meeting events with well over 5,000 visitors during 2017.  In summary, there are 18 partner companies that occupy 26 office and light industrial bay spaces.  We also have 4 virtual partners that occupy the building on a part-time basis but do not occupy an office.


The Ohio State University South Centers Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a 9 person team that provides business counseling and training to a 10 county region in Southern Ohio. The Center utilizes a unified delivery model to incorporate resources from other programs affiliated with The Ohio State University South Centers, including the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Direct Marketing and OSU Extension programs to strengthen service offerings.

The Export Assistance Network (EAN) helps companies to expand globally through counseling in the areas of market research, due diligence, general export education, export readiness assessments, and trade missions. A counselor also continues to specialize in providing opportunities for businesses to increase sales and create jobs through access to international markets as many small companies don’t have the expertise or resources to expand their business into these markets. Individual counselors are recognized each year at the Statewide SBDC conference for extraordinary efforts given throughout the year.  These Peer Recognition Awards are voted on by all counselors around the state. All levels of field staff are eligible for nomination and there are five (5) categories of awards: advocacy, collaboration, innovation, marketing and mentoring. This year two of our counselors brought home individual awards.  Chris Smalley won the Innovation Award for his work with the OSU South Centers Aquaculture Boot Camp program and Melissa Carter won the marketing award for helping clients develop and enhance informational/basic websites, Etsy stores, and social media platforms.

The Small Business Development Center at the OSU South Centers had very successful year providing business consulting to the existing and start-up small businesses in Southern Ohio. Also, Fayette County was added to the South Centers service area in 2017. During fiscal year 2017 the SBDC at the OSU South Centers provided the following assistance:
• Provided consulting to 365 clients of which 271 received 5 or more hours of consulting
• Assisted with starting 26 businesses
• Helped clients obtain $9,626,093 in capital
• Logged 4,484 consulting hours
• Held 18 training events with 324 attendees
• Clients created 113 new jobs and retained 824 jobs
• Recorded $7,000,000 in general sales growth for clients

Manufacturing Extension Partnership

The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) was recently awarded a contract from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to support the growth of small and medium sized manufacturing companies in the southeast region of Ohio. CDME is a unit within OSU’s College of Engineering focused on strengthening Ohio’s manufacturing sector.The contract establishes CDME as a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate for the State of Ohio in support of Ohio companies. CDME will partner with the Ohio State University South Centers Business Development team to implement services in the Southeast Ohio region.

The MEP at Ohio State will focus on providing value added. CDME has a full-time engineering staff and is led by a team of former entrepreneurs and business owners who have successfully grown manufacturing and product innovation companies. The MEP program has access to CDME’s 40,000 square foot manufacturing space on the main Columbus campus, as well as most of the equipment in the broader Ohio State University landscape.  
CDME MEP is primarily focused on new product development, product improvement, innovation, business development, lean manufacturing, and supply chain management.  The program assists companies in the central and southeast Ohio regions in the following manner:
• Providing value-added engineering support for product development and innovation with an emphasis on design for manufacturing.
• Commercialization support and partner opportunities with commercial OEMs.
• Professional program management and industry-friendly contracts.
• Proposal identification and development support for federal, state and commercial funding programs.
• Access to the research capabilities and facilities of The Ohio State University and other State of Ohio research universities and federal laboratories.
• Introduction to support partners in the CDME network (incubators, venture capital, supply chain partners, fortune 100 OEMS, etc).
• Prototyping and small scale manufacturing of new products.
• Access to highly motivated students with experiential learning looking to join innovative manufacturing companies upon graduation.

Training and Programming

The staff of The OSU South Centers Business Development Network continues to engage community organizations and partners to maintain awareness of changing needs in the region and develop solutions to address those needs.  Throughout the year, members of the Business Development Team served as board members for multiple chambers of commerce, county economic development offices, and advisory boards for business organizations to increase awareness of business issues and identify solutions to problems.

University of Rio Grande - The OSU-Rio Collaboration is a multi-project partnership between the OSU South Centers and the University of Rio Grande.  The primary objective is to provide educational TV programming covering many different topics that promote Small Businesses, Business Support Organizations, programs at The Ohio State University South Centers, and Educational Programs at the University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College. A member of the Business Development Network also serves as adjunct faculty to provide instruction for both online and on campus business courses.

Lumber Grading School  - Over a dozen loggers from Ohio and abroad gathered at OSU South Centers to participate in a course designed to give them a better understanding and develop their skills in the timber industry. The five-day Lumber Grading Short Course/Flex Day Course was instructed by a National Hardwood Lumber Association National Inspector.  The course began on October 2nd and finished on October 6th. The course was sponsored by OSU South Centers South Centers, Ohio Forestry Association, Inc., and the National Hardwood Lumber Association.

From Dream to Reality- This course is a five-week business program that meets twice a week designed to provide an opportunity to learn a variety of skills needed to own and operate a business. This course is offered two times per year through a partnership with the Pike Community Action Agency.

Agricultural Development and Young Farmer Programs- The SBDC works continues to work closely with the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation to provide assistance  annually to  agribusinesses and next generation farmers to diversify from tobacco production into a profitable venture. The SBDC provides assists area farmers with writing business plans for projects that will be submitted to SOACDF for potential grant funding. This past year, there were 73 Ag Development applicants and 25 Young Farmer applicants. You can view details and deadlines about the program at

Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center - The SBDC has partnered with the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center’s Office of Rehabilitative Services to establish an entrepreneurship program for veterans. The program is divided into three two-hour classes and occurred quarterly. The classes focus on business feasibility and entrepreneurship readiness, business plan components, marketing and operations. The veterans who have successfully completed this course have either already started or are in process of starting their own business.