Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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March 9, 2023 11:36am

Why Reaching Out to Your Local SBDC Makes Sense

Before I answer that question, I’ll need to answer the other question you have in your mind now.  What is a SBDC and what does SBDC stand for? Good question!

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program is a partnership between the Small Business Administration (SBA), centers of higher learning such as Universities, local governments, economic development organizations and chambers of commerce.   Federal money is matched dollar for dollar with funds from partner organizations.  SBDC’s provide free, high quality one on one consulting for entrepreneurs and business owner to help them start, fund, or grow their businesses.

Kentucky is fortunate to have one of the top-rated SBDC programs and the Louisville SBDC is the best. In 2022, the Louisville SBDC was honored as the top SBDC nationally as the most innovative out of 1300 centers nationally in the SBDC program.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center provides a lot of bang for the buck, too. In 2019, an independent study conducted by Dr. Fred Chrisman of the University of Missouri concluded that for every dollar invested in the Kentucky Small Business Development Center program equals $9.47 return on investment and $8.55 Million returned to the state’s economy from $58.9 Million in financing obtained by KSBDC clients.  Dr. Chrisman also found that KSBDC clients recommended the services 98% of the time. These same clients generated $108 Million in incremental sales increases through their work with the KSBDC and created 1156 new jobs.  That’s quite a lot of impact from a program you probably haven’t heard of.

As part of the Kentucky SBDC network of 13 statewide centers, the Louisville center has been the leader in economic impact throughout the state.  In 2022, the Louisville center helped 740 unique clients, started 33 new businesses, facilitated $11.9 million in loans and equity, supported 1219 jobs, and had 1354 people attend our events and trainings.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked with 2138 unique clients, helped start 132 businesses, facilitated $46 million in loans and equity, supported 3628 jobs and had 9265 people attend our workshops.  That’s a lot of activity for a staff of four people!

The Louisville SBDC consultants serve many types of business owners, including women, minorities, and veterans.   They also assist personnel with disabilities, youth and encore entrepreneurs, and individuals in low and moderate-income urban and rural areas start or grow their businesses.  Professional SBDC business coaches can help business owners navigate:

  • Business plan development
  • Financial packaging and lending
  • Importing and Exporting
  • Disaster recovery
  • Market research

SBDC centers also provide free or low-cost business and entrepreneurial training.  These workshops and seminars are usually held at various times during the day or evening to accommodate a busy schedule.  Topics range from pre-business basics, marketing and basic QuickBooks, just to name a few.  Some workshops have a fee to cover costs, but many are free.

How can working with an SBDC help? Here are 3 Reasons you should get to know your local SBDC:

  1. Referrals – Statewide, Kentucky SBDC has worked with over 3000 clients last year. While some clients were people starting their first business many more were existing businesses working to grow and improve their businesses. Business development is very important to grow any business and the Kentucky SBDC is a great referral source.  As previously mentioned, KSBDC ‘s hosts many workshops, seminars and events and almost all of these are taught, or the content is provided by outside experts.  If you are an expert, volunteer to share what you know. It’s also a great way to meet prospective clients.
  2. Financing Strategies – Although the Kentucky Small Business Development Center doesn’t make loans, they can help develop strategies to help fund a startup or find capital for expansion. Strategies may include financing from banks, nonbank lenders such as community development financial institutions and venture capital firms, or alternatives such as leasing. KSBDC may also help clients develop financial projections and prepare credit requests. KSBDC consultants are trained in loan packaging and can help put together a professional loan proposal that your client can use to get conventional or SBA financing. All for free.
  3. Market Research – SBDC’s have access to many industry and market research databases that are usually out of reach of small business owners. If you have a client considering a new opportunity, SBDC staff can provide comprehensive market and industry analysis that will allow your client to truly make the right decision.

By leveraging all available assets for clients, we work hard to make a profound difference in the performance of our client’s businesses.  And, when our client’s business succeeds, our community’s economy succeeds as well.

David Oetken is the Center Director at the Louisville Small Business Development Center.  He can be reached at 

[email protected].  Schedule a zoom meeting: https://calendly.com/daveoetken.