DULUTH, MN – The Center for Economic Development and Northeast regional office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network, at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has been named the Minnesota SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year is selected annually to honor a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Service Center for excellence in providing value to small businesses and advancing program delivery and management through innovation. Bruce Strong, state director of the Minnesota SBDC Network, nominated the Center for Economic Development (CED) and Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network for this award.
The CED is one of nine regional SBDC service centers in Minnesota and has long been a pillar of that program. The regional director in the center is Elaine Hansen, who has provided expert leadership and vision to the center for more than 11 years. Program Coordinator Sandi Larson has more than 8 years experience at the CED and provides critical support and creativity to fulfill the SBDC mission.
As the name implies, the CED is more than the SBDC – they are a regional center that provides a host of economic development tools, programs, and innovation that far exceed the bounds of a typical SBDC regional service center. In partnership with the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the Natural Resource Research Institute, and the Swenson College of Science and Engineering, the CED coordinates several additional programs that are critical to the effectiveness of SBDC services provided throughout NE Minnesota.
UMD CED operates nine satellite locations in addition to the central office located in Duluth, to provide access to SBDC programs and assistance throughout the entire Northeastern Minnesota region. After a careful assessment of their capabilities and meeting with several key stakeholders, the CED Director, Elaine Hansen, agreed to take on the responsibility of hosting the Northwest region of Minnesota. CED is responsible for the entire northern third of Minnesota geographically. That means establishing and staffing a new regional office and several new satellite offices to handle the load. UMD CED has increased its support and financial commitment to the SBDC program. Further, Hansen has agreed to mentor a potential new host in hopes they will be able to step into the regional role in the NW region in the near future. Without the support of UMD and the CED, the entire Minnesota SBDC program would have suffered a crippling blow.
UMD CED consulting programs provide one-on-one service to existing businesses and business start-ups focusing on feasibility studies, market research, surveys, business plan development, loan packaging, operational assistance, procurement assistance, manufacturing, management, compliance (EPA, OSHA, IRS, Revenue and Tax), problem solving, and information technology.
Their programs include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) Business Group, Teen Enterprise (youth entrepreneurship), maintaining a Business Resource Library, over 200 workshops and seminars annually throughout the region, and the cross-disciplinary Student to Business Initiative (SBI). The SBI program is one that actively engages UMD students in practical real-world business applications and affords them the opportunity to provide actual consulting services to SBDC clients on multiple topics including marketing, financial management, new product development, and accounting projects.
In addition, the UMD CED has operated a Business Incubator that supports fledgling businesses that use or develop technology. Incubator participants have access to the tools, structure and guidance necessary to maximize the firm’s change of success and growth in addition to providing them a physical office location at a cost significantly below market.
UMD CED offers outstanding quality business and computer training seminars and workshops to businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the region and state to enhance the knowledge and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations. In addition, CED sponsors the Upper Midwest Economic Development Course, a week-long comprehensive educational experience sponsored by the CED and offered annually to economic development professionals. The course is based on the theory and practice of economic development fundamentals and is accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and fulfills the first prerequisite for those who wish to take the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) Examination.
The Center for Economic Development and Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network, at the University of Minnesota Duluth, will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6, 2014, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.