Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

SBDC History

America's Small Business Development Center Network is an amazing success story. In this short history of the SBDC, we explain how the SBDC got its start during Small Business Week in 1976 and how it has become an excellent resource for entrepreneurs and business owners.

America's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network is easily the most comprehensive small business resource in the U.S.

SBDC History

Every year, they give millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners counseling and educational services that help small American companies succeed in today's business environment.

At the heart of the SBDC philosophy is the recognition that small businesses are engines of U.S. economic growth. By investing in the lives of small business owners, the SBDC and its collaborative partners collectively strengthen the economy and undergird the nation's role as a global economic powerhouse.

What Does the SBDC Do?

The SBDC is comprised of more than 1,000 small business centers located throughout the U.S. Working in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBDC is the federal government's largest technical and management assistance program for small businesses. In any given year, the SBDC serves more than a million businesses by providing non-fee business consulting and training in areas like business plan writing, capital acquisition, marketing, compliance, exporting, and more. Although many of the SMDC's clients are startups, many more are existing small businesses that are planning for growth.

Historical Overview

The roots of the SBDC can be traced back to the 1940s with Congressional legislation establishing university-based business extension services. With the establishment of the SBA in 1953, it was clear that momentum was building for nationwide resources to help small businesses grow and prosper. During Small Business Week in 1976, the SBA announced plans for "a small business program that offered the resources of higher education, small business and government." The SBDC concept was initially piloted at universities, using the extension model that had proven to be effective in the field of agriculture. In a collaborative effort with key congressional leaders, the Association of Small Business Development Centers was born in 1979. It has continued to grow in the decades since through the joint efforts of the business, academic, and governmental communities.

Major Takeaway

Today, the SBDC network is a tremendous resource for U.S. small businesses. But the major takeaway from its history is the power of collaboration. When the business community joins hands with the academy and legislative advocates, the results can be much greater than when each interests pursues its own, independent path.

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