Navona at Uptown Coffee

The Power of Partnership: SBDC Bolsters Big Dreams for Small Business

What do a bustling coffee shop, a thriving cupcake business and a carefully curated consignment boutique have in common? Carousell Consignments, Maria’s Sweet Creations and Uptown Coffee are small, local, and all three have benefited from the help of Longwood Small Business Development Center(SBDC) which is based right here in Farmville, Virginia. Each of these businesses—and many more—received consulting, guidance and support from the dynamic and multifaceted network of the SBDC staff. A staff that brings a combined 250 years of experience to their client’s fingertips.

The Longwood Small Business Development Center is an economic development outreach program under Longwood University’s Office of Community and Economic Development and exists as a partnership program of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The SBDC is an important outreach of the University, working with new and existing businesses on starting and growing their business base,” says Sheri McGuire, program director. “Our staff and student interns work in-depth with business owners on problem solving and strategic planning. We also work closely with organizations such as the Farmville Downtown Partnership, the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, and others to leverage activities together and create a greater impact.”

Sheri McGuire picture

Sheri McGuire

With five regional offices throughout southern Virginia, the SBDC serves 26 localities. In 2014, the center provided over 2,200 hours of consulting services for budding and existing small business owners and assisted in the creation and retention of 246 jobs. In a single year, the center consulted with over 500 entrepreneurs.

Longwood SBDC is a part of the larger, nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers and is powerfully adept at connecting and linking their clients with experts who can help. According to Sheri, “Recently, when talking with a business prospect, he asked me if I was an expert in a particular subject matter, and it was great to tell him that we are good at a number of things. But most importantly, if we are not experts on a subject, we specialize in connecting you with the experts and answers you need in the timeframe that you need them.”

The concept of connection and partnership are core to the work that the SBDC does and a crucial part of what makes it such an invaluable resource to the community.“I get tremendous satisfaction in my role when I can visualize the patterns of who can help whom, and put those people together to create a successful outcome,” says Sheri.

The SBDC does more than simply link business owners with resources and help. Their commitment to connections and partnerships include strengthening connections between the University and the community as well.

According to Sheri, this atmosphere of collaboration is mutually beneficial, “The business community here is supportive of each other, and there is an ever increasing air of mutual cooperation between the University community and the business community,” she says. “On any particular day, you can find students volunteering in the community and with businesses, or perhaps a class at Longwood or Hampden-Sydney that has taken on a community based research or service project to improve the community.”

As people increasingly return to the idea of buying, eating and shopping locally, the SBDC continues to offer the power of community and connection to existing and aspiring small business owners, proving that for entrepreneurs in Farmville and surrounding areas, small-town living truly can bring larger-than-life business dreams.

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