DULUTH — 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.
The SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year is selected annually by the Small Business Administration to honor a 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 Duluth-based office for the award.
The CED is one of nine regional SBDC service centers in Minnesota. Regional director in the center is Elaine Hansen, who has been at the center for more than 10 years. Hansen, has agreed to take on the responsibility of hosting the Northwest region of Minnesota. CED will be responsible to cover the entire northern third of Minnesota geographically. It means establishing and staffing a new regional office and several new satellite offices to handle the load. It also means the University of Minnesota Duluth will essentially double their financial commitment to the program.
Program coordinator, Sandi Larson, has more than seven years experience at the CED.
As part of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics and Swenson College of Science and Engineering, the CED coordinates several programs that are critical to the effectiveness of SBDC services provided.
UMD CED consulting programs provide one-on-one service to business start-ups and existing businesses focusing on feasibility studies, market research, surveys, business plan development, loan packaging, operational assistance, procurement assistance, manufacturing, management, compliance (EPA, OOSHA, Revue and Tax), problem solving, and information technology.
Their programs include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) Business Group, the 21st Century Arrowhead Initiative, and the 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 marketing and account projects.
In addition, the UMD CED operates an Economic Development 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 operates nine satellite locations in addition to the main office located in Duluth, to provide access to SBDC programs and assistance throughout the entire Northeastern Minnesota region.
The Center will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.