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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Small Business Development Center joins campus community

Offices on Warren Street

Small Business Development Center now based on campus.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office news release [2/15/2011]

The Small Business Development Center for south central Minnesota has joined Minnesota State University, Mankato, becoming the state’s newest university-based advisor to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The grant-funded, not-for-profit center, directed by Michael Nolan, last week moved its headquarters to the university’s Alumni Foundation Center at 1536 Warren St., Mankato.

The Minnesota State Mankato partnership “will significantly enhance the business development services that we provide for small businesses,” Nolan said. “We look forward to serving south central Minnesota businesses with even more resources and stronger regional partnerships.”

“The new Small Business Development Center partnership will strengthen our role in regional economic development,” said Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport. “These new collaborative relationships will contribute to the economic vitality and development of our region’s small-business community, and connect even more students with entrepreneurs in our region.”

The center will be a vital support service for other campus departments and centers, said Bob Hoffman, vice president for strategic business, education and regional partnerships at Minnesota State Mankato. “The SBDC collaboration will make our graduates even more job-ready at the professional level,” Hoffman explained.

Until recently the center was hosted for more than 10 years by the Region Nine Development Commission. Region Nine will continue to be the program’s lead funding and business development partner, and South Central College, the North Mankato Port Authority, Greater Mankato Growth, Inc., the Workforce Center and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will continue to be collaborators.

Forty-one funding partners provide support to the organization, ranging from small cities and county governments to economic development agencies and financial institutions.

The center serves clients in nine counties: Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan. In addition to its Minnesota State Mankato office, the center maintains outreach centers in Gaylord and Fairmont, and soon will add outreach offices in New Ulm and Waseca.

One of nine regional centers across Minnesota, the Small Business Development Center provides professional services at no cost to pre-venture, emerging and established business owners. Services include readiness assessment counseling for those hoping to convert an idea to reality; strategic realignment advice for businesses that need to change direction; and long-term growth strategizing for established businesses.

The center’s no-cost, confidential consulting includes assistance with access to capital and loan packaging, financial assessment, accounting systems, marketing plan development and research, feasibility analysis, business plan development, e-commerce and web site development, and succession strategic planning.

“We help businesses in every stage of their development – determining strategies, attracting customers, increasing sales and improving profitability,” Nolan pointed out.

Each year the center offers hundreds of workshops, seminars and confidential consulting sessions that are tailored to needs of the local business community.

The affiliation with Minnesota State Mankato will provide the center with a cadre of business student interns and volunteers who can conduct research for center clients, and faculty who can advise business owners about marketing, finance and management.

“This higher education partnership will improve the services that we provide to south central Minnesota businesses, and will expand the opportunities for students to learn what’s necessary to grow a successful business,” Nolan said.

“This is a win-win for both the Region Nine Development Commission and Minnesota State Mankato,” said Region Nine Director Reggie Edwards. “It means we are able to build upon and leverage the resources throughout the region that support small business development. Access to faculty and students compliments and increases the diversity of skills offered to small businesses.”

The center is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and regional funding partners, including the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The center’s headquarters office is staffed by Nolan and Program Manager Julie Nelson.

Nolan is a “serial entrepreneur” who developed and sold two successful companies, and then earned an MBA from the Melbourne School of Business.

Nelson – responsible for client intake and assessment, resource identification, training and education, marketing and strategic partnerships – has 13 years of economic development experience with the Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation.

Small business owners who wish to contact the center may do so at the 1536 Warren St. address or by calling (507) 389-8875.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive, doctoral university with 15,393 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system.

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