CLARION – The Clarion University Small Business Development Center, one of 18 centers in Pennsylvania, recently received accreditation by the National Association of Small Business Development Centers. The SBDC provides entrepreneurs and existing small businesses in Armstrong, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Venango counties with one-on-one consulting, information and education to help businesses start, grow and prosper.
“Clarion University Small Business Development Center has continued to serve as a critical economic resource for our businesses and communities,” said Rep. Thompson. “This national accreditation is well-deserved and serves to reiterate the hard work being done through Clarion SBDC to boost economic activity and provide current and future entrepreneurs with the tools to grow and expand. The Clarion SBDC team should be proud of this accomplishment and their contributions to the economic prosperity of our region and the broader commonwealth.”
During the past year the Clarion University SBDC provided 8,000 hours of one-on-one consulting to over 500 clients, assisted clients with securing financing for projects totaling more than $18,000,000 and provided entrepreneurial training to more than 1,400 individuals. For these achievements, the Clarion University SBDC was recognized in 2011 by the Small Business Administration Pittsburgh District with the Award of Excellence in Training and the Award of Excellence in Capital Formation. For more information on the Clarion University SBDC services, visit www.clarion.edu/sbdc.
The accreditation review process, mandated by Congress, is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Program developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to ensure that SBDC programs operate efficiently and effectively. Failure to achieve accreditation can result in the loss of federal funding. A seven-member team composed of the leaders of SBDC programs in Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine and Michigan conducted the Pennsylvania SBDC review. The team assessed several areas of the program, including leadership and organizational management, the strategic planning process, client and stakeholder focus, service delivery, and program performance. These standards ensure that the public investment in the program from the federal government, the state government and the host institutions results in strong returns for Pennsylvania’s economy.
“The review team was very impressed with the program and operation,” said Mark Petrilli, state director of the Illinois SBDC program and leader of the review. “We found a program that develops and deploys strong performance expectations, is constantly reviewing performance and pursuing continuous improvement in all areas. The Pennsylvania SBDC is noted as a high performing program by its funding partners, clients and peers.”
The team also detailed several commendations in its report, including:
- “Strong fiscal and programmatic management and oversight,” to ensure the network is in compliance with all laws, regulations and guidelines governing the program
- “High level of engagement with key stakeholders,” in particular, state legislators
- The extensive engagement of students and faculty
- “Energetic, motivated, engaged and passionate” staff
- A “multitude of strong” and “strategic partnerships that are well aligned” and complement the SBDC’s services
- The “structure, talent and scalability” to “play a key role in advancing the state in technology commercialization”
- “An active, results-oriented technology initiative that is serving businesses across the state”
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary C. Alan Walker echoed the team’s findings. “Clearly, the SBDC is held in high esteem throughout the country,” he noted. “We are pleased to have one of the most well-respected SBDC networks call Pennsylvania home.”
Since its inception, the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers has provided over 2.5 million hours of consulting to more than 216,000 entrepreneurs and offered over 14,000 courses, workshops and seminars attended by 334,000 Pennsylvanians. SBDC services have helped small firms throughout the commonwealth raise more than $2.5 billion in start-up and expansion capital, start more than 24,000 new companies and sell $10 billion worth of Pennsylvania products and services throughout the world. As a result, SBDC clients have created more than 120,000 new jobs and generated more than $5.68 million in new state income tax revenue.
“As a strong advocate for Pennsylvania’s small business sector, I am pleased with the accreditation team’s findings,” states U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey. “The SBDC program provides tremendous services in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania that enables entrepreneurs and their businesses to start, grow, and prosper.”