The North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC), hosted by IU South Bend’s Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics since 2015, has made outstanding progress providing expert guidance and resources to entrepreneurs in the region.
“When IU South Bend became our regional host, we hit the reset button” said Alan Steele, regional director, North Central Indiana SBDC. “Since then, we’ve made steady progress and set record numbers for our region.”
In 2015, the Center recorded 155 clients, 12 new business starts, and $1.4 million capital infusion. Remarkably, in 2020 the number of clients served has grown to 441, with 31 new business starts and resulting in a $15.3 million capital infusion.
In fact, in 2020 the Center exceeded every goal assigned by the Small Business Administration and the state Small Business Development Center network, while serving the region through a high level of community engagement.
“IU South Bend is proud to host the North Central Indiana SBDC,” said IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod. “The Center’s remarkable progress providing expert guidance and resources to entrepreneurs in the region aligns directly with our mission to help drive local economic development. It’s also noteworthy that 51% of their clients are women and 33% are underrepresented populations.”
“Hosting the Center fits perfectly with the mission of the Leighton School to increase engagement in the business community,” said school’s Interim Dean Tracey Anderson. “It’s a wonderful resource to help budding small business owners in our community develop and grow their small business initiatives.”
The Center enjoys many positive connections with IU South Bend. Steele, an IU South Bend alumnus, noted that the Center has served approximately 35-40 IU South Bend students and many alumni. Several IU South Bend faculty have been expert presenters on webinars the Center hosted for small business owners. In addition, three of the Center’s four employees are IU South Bend alumni.
And, as IU South Bend envisions new opportunities and centers of expertise, the North Central Indiana SBDC is poised to serve as a valuable resource in the success of these endeavors. “As we work on our vision for a future health care simulation and innovation center on campus, the North Central Indiana SBDC will be a valuable partner in bringing entrepreneurs to the table,” said Tom Stevick, interim vice chancellor for university relations.
Helping small businesses succeed is critical to the growth and economic development of the local community, Steele explained. Since the last recession, two-thirds of all the jobs created in the United States have been created by small businesses. “Small businesses are the job creators,” Steele said.
Yet, most of the people who start up a small business have a deep expertise in their specialty areas, but not in operating a business. “An organization like ours helps bridge these gaps with no cost, one-on-one consulting and education,” said Steele.
In a year when businesses were upended by COVID-19, the Center also helped small businesses impacted by the pandemic, conducting 265 counseling sessions with 141 organizations impacted by the pandemic, assisting with access to financial assistance programs and helping businesses reimagine business models when faced with disruption of historical business practices. “The Center remained highly active in the community despite the restrictions of the pandemic,” Steele said.
At a recent state-wide meeting, the North Central Indiana SBDC, one of ten statewide, ranked second in Indiana for its overall performance against goals and received several awards, including:
- Alan Steele recorded the largest amount of capital infusion
- Tracie Davis was named Export Advisor of the Year and State Star, an award given annually to an SBDC employee who exemplifies outstanding accomplishments and service to clients
Throughout the past five years, the partnership between the Center and IU South Bend has been mutually beneficial. “We all very much serve the same market,” Steele explained. “The Center serves as the ‘feet-on-the ground’ in the community for helping small businesses grow. Likewise, as the Center’s regional host, IU South Bend helps make it possible for us to ramp up our work in the small business community, further increasing its engagement in region.”