Twenty Years of Growing New York's Small Businesses
2004 marks the 20th anniversary of the New York State Small Business Development Center helping New York’s small business entrepreneurs.

Back in 1984, a small group of visionaries understood that the economic vitality of New York depended on small businesses finding an environment in which to grow. If more entrepreneurs were going to succeed, they needed professional help developing business plans, obtaining access to capital, and planning for the future of their enterprises. In June 1984, four years after President Jimmy Carter signed the Small Business Development Center Act of 1980 into law, the State University of New York received designation as the lead sponsor center, along with limited funding support for the program, from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). That was the beginning of the NYS SBDC program.

To deliver the highest quality, pro bono, small business counseling, training, and research services, a network of five regional centers was established in Albany, Plattsburgh, Binghamton, Niagara, and Buffalo, with a central administrative office in Albany. The next year, program leaders successfully negotiated an expansion proposal to add five locations in the downstate region. From there the program grew by leaps and bounds, to its current electronically integrated network of 23 Regional Centers with numerous outreach and satellite offices.
One of the measures of the program’s success is reflected in terms of national awards. In the last six years alone, the NYS SBDC has won 18 major awards for excellence. In 2003, the SBDC and its State Director won a national SBA Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official. The award is in recognition of the invaluable assistance the SBDC provided to the New York City small business community following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Also, the World Trade Center Small Business Recovery Loan Fund—promoted by the SBDC and administered by New York Business Development Corporation—won the 2003 Governor’s Award for Small Business Not-For-Profit Organization of the Year. The Fund has distributed more than $3 million in low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the terrorist attack.

Another measure of the SBDC’s success is the breadth of its impact. The expert advisement offered by the New York State SBDC has earned it a ranking as the premier business assistance program in the state. In 20 years, the SBDC has worked directly with over 210,000 New York businesses, helping them invest almost $2.4 billion in the state’s economy. These businesses have, in turn, created or saved over 100,000 jobs.

Key to this record of success are the strategic partnerships the SBDC has formed - with the US Small Business Administration, the State of New York, The State University of New York, host campuses, Empire State Development Corporation, the New York Small Business Development Corporation, the US Department of Labor, the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and many other agencies- partnerships that help the SBDC consistently deliver the high-quality business counseling services that New York needs. SUNY administers the SBDC, while the SBA, the State of New York, and host campuses fund the SBDC.
SBDC Regional Centers are strategically located around the state, on the campuses of SUNY, CUNY and private universities. One of our offices is near you. The SBDC, through its regional offices, is working with various government agencies and technical assistance organizations to provide regulatory compliance assistance to New York small businesses.

The SBDC prioritizes underserved populations, but works to improve the economic viability of all small businesses. Statewide, of the 17,811 SBDC clients served last year, minority clients comprised 34 percent. Almost half of SBDC clients were women. Increasingly, small business ownership reflects the melting pot of New York’s population.

At the heart of every SBDC office are the talented, dedicated Business Advisers who have just one goal in mind: assisting you and your business. SBDC Business Advisers undergo a rigorous professional certification process to continually improve their expertise and sharpen their interactive skills.

The NYS/SBDC Advisory Board consists of individuals from small business, banking, government, and industry who have a commitment to the future of small business in New York. Most of these people own and operate their own small businesses or provide services to the small business sector. The Chairperson, Loretta Kaminsky, owned her own specialty chocolate business in Buffalo and is an active advocate for small business in New York and nationally. Advisory Board members provide input on program goals and objectives, review program performance, inform the State Director about the economic conditions in their home regions, and advocate for the program with legislators, sponsors, and other interested individuals. In addition, the Advisory Board has standing committees that provide important feedback to the Lead Office on programmatic, advocacy, and operational activities.

Since its debut, the SBDC Web site has undergone several transformations. And now, on the eve of our twentieth anniversary, we are preparing a retrospective section devoted to the history of the program from 1984 to the present. The plans include a timeline of significant events in SBDC history, historical photos, information about selected clients, profiles of the first SBDC Regional Center Directors, and a profile of the first statewide Advisory Board. To facilitate visitors’ access to the site, we added a site search engine this year. This feature allows users to enter a keyword and quickly jump to the relevant information. Try it on our homepage at

Among the SBDC’s specialized programs is the Office of Entrepreneurial Education. The oe2 promotes interest in entrepreneurship through instructional programs. In 2003, oe2 developed and launched EntreSkills I, an interactive, web based program, providing high school students the skills need to open and run a successful small business. The unit was the recipient of the 2003 Hobart H. Conover Friend of Business Education Award from the Business Teachers of New York State, recognizing oe2’s participation in the NYS Department of Education’s Summer Enrichment workshops for business and marketing educators.

Developing business in the global marketplace and exporting goods and services to markets overseas represent a major growth opportunity for small businesses in the 21st century economy. The NYS/SBDC’s International Business Program (IBP) has strategically positioned small- and medium-sized businesses in New York State to take advantage of trade and business development opportunities in the global marketplace. With a focus on business opportunities for New York companies in China, the SBDC has nurtured contacts, resources and an unparalleled network within government and business circles in China on the local, regional, and national levels. The IBP is exploring the markets in South and Central America, Europe, and other Asian countries. Several meetings with representatives from these regions were held and fruitful contacts and communications were established.

The Defense Economic Transition Assistance (DETA) program was authorized by SBA in 1995 to enable SBDCs to assist small businesses impacted by reductions in defense spending and the closing of military bases. The New York State DETA program provides an array of no-cost business services to help reposition these defense-impacted businesses to commercial markets. Four SBDC DETA centers have been strategically positioned throughout New York State—in Plattsburgh, Utica, Farmingdale, and Stony Brook--to provide assistance to heavily impacted areas. DETA Business Advisers at Regional Centers are supported by the Manufacturing and Defense Development Center (MDDC), located in Rensselaer. You can access additional information about DETA at

Four years ago, the New York State SBDC was one of four organizations in the country selected by the SBA for the Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP)--a pilot entrepreneurial assistance program directed at veterans—and especially service-disabled veterans. VBOP provides outreach in the form of targeted business training, counseling, and mentoring for eligible veterans. The program focuses on veterans who want to start their own businesses or who own businesses and want to improve profitability. As part of VBOP, special Veterans Business Outreach Centers were established at the Farmingdale, Buffalo, and Albany SBDCs, each with a veterans’ business adviser. More recently, Business Advisers have been added to provide assistance to veterans in Syracuse, New York City and the Southern Tier.

An important ancillary program is the Veterans Behind Bars initiative. It has been operating for over two years, in partnership with the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and is directed at veterans who are within three years of release or parole. The program started on a pilot basis at two medium-security facilities—Arthur Kill on Staten Island, and Groveland near Rochester. At both facilities, SBDC business advisers from nearby Regional Centers provide free business planning seminars and business plan preparation workshops to veterans who sign up for the voluntary program. In its four years of existence, New York’s VBOP has provided counseling to almost 6,000 veterans, trained more than 6,000 veterans, and located over $82.5 million in funding for veterans’ businesses.

The NYS/SBDC constantly seeks funding for new initiatives in order to broaden and deepen its services to New York’s small businesses. An example is the Drug-Free Workplace Program funded by the SBA. Each year, alcohol and drug abuse cost American businesses $276 billion in lost productivity. Small businesses are especially vulnerable. In 2003, the SBDC conducted several special Drug-Free Workplace workshops across the state to alert small- and medium-sized businesses to the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. The material is fully compliant with alcohol and drug rules mandated by US Department of Transportation’s Drug Evaluation and Classification Program regarding employees who drive motor vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license. The NYS/SBDC was awarded a third year of funding for the program, and will be sponsoring another round of workshops around the New York State in 2004.

The success of SBDC clients can be attributed to the hard work of SBDC staff across New York State and to the active support of key SBDC economic development partners on numerous projects and initiatives. Besides the SBA, the State of New York, SUNY, and host campuses, other key partnerships include, but are not limited to:

Empire State Development (ESD): The State economic development agency that provides assistance and service to businesses to foster economic investment and prosperity in New York State. ESD works closely with businesses to identify creative solutions to challenging problems, generate enhanced opportunities for growth, and help businesses achieve their uniquely important short- and long-term goals. The Director of ESD’s Division of Small Business serves on the SBDC Advisory Board.

New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC): A private corporation that works in conjunction with leading New York banks and thrift institutions to provide creative and innovative financing to small businesses across New York. NYBDC co-administers, with the SBDC, the World Trade Center Small Business Recovery Fund, a revolving micro loan fund for small businesses in NYC affected by the September 11 terrorist attack. The President of NYBDC serves on the SBDC Advisory Board.

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Taxation and Finance is an agency that provides a fair system of tax administration, is accessible and responsive to taxpayers, and contributes to a favorable economic climate. The agency has a close working relationship with the SBDC. Department of Taxation representatives routinely participate in SBDC-hosted workshops throughout the state for small business owners. The agency provided critical collaboration with the SBDC and NYBDC in providing information to the WTCSBRF to facilitate the approval of bridge loans to WTC disaster-impacted applicants

New York State Environmental Assistance Network (NYSEAN): A coalition of government agencies and organizations developed to promote pollution prevention and environmental compliance among New York State businesses. The SBDC works with representatives from federal, state, municipal, and other agencies and organizations to ensure that New York businesses receive the best access to environmental assistance resources.

Business Council of New York State (BCNYS): The primary advocacy group for business in New York State, supported by some 4,000 member companies and chambers of commerce from around the state. The BCNYS partners with the SBDC on special projects and initiatives targeted at small businesses in NYS.

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): The largest advocacy organization representing small and independent businesses in the US. NFIB provides timely informational resources to help business owners succeed. NFIB partners with the SBDC on special projects and initiatives targeted at small businesses in NYS. in the NY Bizlink project.

Service Core of Retired Employees (SCORE): An SBA-sponsored program dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth, and success of small businesses nationwide. SBDC Regional Centers work hand in hand with local SCORE chapters around the state.

US Department of Energy (DOE): DOE is in charge of Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The Stony Brook SBDC maintains an outreach office at Brookhaven to provide business counseling to companies developing technologies that evolve from research at Brookhaven. This is the first SBDC office on site at a national laboratory. It also represents the first joint venture between the SBA, the SBDC, and DOE.

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