By: Brad Bapst, SBDC Director and Counselor
The District 7 Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at The Ohio State University South Centers is an eight-person team including a Regional Director, six Certified Business Advisors® and an administrative program assistant. The District 7 SBDC Center also utilizes a unified delivery model to incorporate resources from other programming affiliated with the Ohio State University South Centers, including an International Trade Assistance Center, Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and OSU Extension programs.
Regional partnerships are the primary source of referrals for the District 7 SBDC. The South Centers maintains formal agreements with three local universities for regional economic development collaboration. The SBDC also utilized formal Memorandums of Understanding with the Southern Ohio Procurement Outreach Center, the district’s PTAC, and Pike County Community Action. These relationships help the region’s entrepreneurs, business owners and small manufacturers with technical assistance and training.
The OSU South Centers SBDC Center also participated in multiple entrepreneurial focused events throughout the year such as: Aquaculture Boot Camp, Business Blog Talk, From Dream to Reality, and the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation tobacco diversification initiative.
Aquaculture Boot Camp was a year-long training program serving the entire state of Ohio to develop new farmers and ranchers in the aquaculture industry. The program couples business planning and scientific technical assistance for the potential new aquaculture producers. The SBDC provided all-encompassing counseling to the business aspects of aquaculture operations.
Business Blog Talk is a weekly podcast that incorporates business resources and highlights entrepreneurial successes in our region. Over 10,695 listeners have tuned in from around the globe. This is a unique and innovative approach to communicate with our clients and partners about the services available and to share success stories that help market the businesses of OSU South Centers clients.
From Dream to Reality is a five-week course that meets twice a week and is 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 County Community Action Agency.
The SOACDF tobacco diversification initiative is an annual program for agribusiness and next generation farmers to diversify from tobacco production into another profitable agricultural venture.
The OSU South Centers SBDC acted as a champion for the businesses in District 7, advocating on behalf of clients to help them attain their business goals. The counselors often assisted with open house planning, flyer development and new product launches for our clients. Assistance with press releases and advocating with local chambers and economic development organizations on the client’s behalf continues to be a common practice.
The staff of the OSU South Centers SBDC continues to engage community organizations to maintain awareness of changing entrepreneurial needs in the region and develop solutions to combat any negative impact to the economy. Counselors volunteered time to serve as board members on several chambers of commerce, a regional board established to support economic development, and advisory boards for business organizations to increase awareness of business issues and identify solutions to problems.
The SBDC won the top performing center in the Columbus SBA District and was nominated for the multi-state 2014 SBA Small Business Development Center Service Excellence and Innovation award by the State Lead Center located within the Ohio Development Services Agency. The center was notified that it won this six-state regional award in April and was recognized by the SBA at the 2014 Small Business Awards Dinner in Grove City, Ohio.
In 2014 the OSU South Centers SBDC provided 4,509 one-on-one consulting hours to 378 clients. As a result, the clients started 25 new businesses, obtained $22,094,068 in loans and other capital, helped create 179 jobs and increased sales by nearly $20,387,492. The SBDC also provided 18 training sessions with 237 attendees. Training topics included general business management and growth principles, Microsoft Office products and social media outlets.