5 questions for … Sonia Stockton
Photo by Kanji Takeno
Maryland SBDC observes 20 years of service
By Jan Lucas
The director of the Maryland Central Region’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) discusses its mission, its successes over the past two decades and its continuing support of Maryland’s small businesses.
What is the Maryland SBDC’s mission?
The SBDC is here to support and provide managerial
and technical assistance to small businesses in its service region, including Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and
Howard counties. Our staff assists small-business owners with
business, marketing and strategic-growth plans, financial packages
to obtain funding from lenders and the minority- and women-owned
business certification process. By the way, the state defines a
small business as one that employs fewer than 100 people. There
are now more than 135,000 such businesses in Maryland.
Has your work evolved over 20 years?
We used to work primarily with people who wanted to start their own businesses. Now 70 percent of our clients have established businesses, most often focused on retail, professional, scientific, and technical services. They recognize that the SBDC has a lot to offer, especially during an economic downturn.
How did the SBDC become affiliated with TU?
All SBDC offices are required to be affiliated with educational institutions, though that wasn’t the case when we moved here in 1997. The federal government mandated university affiliations to expand services offered to small businesses. It allows us to offer campus resources, including consulting services from faculty members and the services of student interns. We’re part of a statewide network of six university-based SBDC regions that is administered from a lead center in College Park.
How did SBDC celebrate its 20th anniversary?
We held open houses at each of the Central District’s four offices and recognized alliance organizations with Champion SBDC awards. Honorees included John R. Leopold, Anne Arundel County executive; Del. Adrian Jones, Baltimore County; state Sen. Verna L. Jones, Baltimore City; and Richard Story, CEO, Howard County Economic Development Authority.
What’s the next big thing for the SBDC?
At the Association of Service-disabled
Veteran Business Owners convention to be held in Annapolis, August
20-22, the SBDC will be sponsoring workshops titled “Managing
Your Business” and “Preparing Your Business for Federal
Contracts." This is the first
time this national organization has met on the East Coast, so
we’re excited about having a role in it.
For more information about SBDC programs and services, go to Small Business Development Center.
[back to main article index]