Big on small business. Big on South Carolina.
SC SBDC History
For more than thirty years, entrepreneurs have turned to South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) for help expanding an existing business or starting a new enterprise. Through free consulting, low-cost seminars and links to resources, the SC SBDC helps jump start startups and makes existing businesses thrive. SC SBDC consultants work with companies in all stages of development – from a person with an innovative product but no idea how to move forward to the owner of a company looking to capture new markets.
A statewide organization, the SC SBDC has 21 area centers in communities across South Carolina, serving both urban and rural business needs. The SC SBDC helps more than 6,000 clients each year. Since 2006, the SC SBDC has assisted the startup of more than 500 new ventures and helped generate more than $383 million in capital formation. In the past five years, SC SBDC consultants have assisted in bringing more than $1 billion in government contracts to small companies in South Carolina.
In the mid-1970s the federal government recognized the importance of small business growth to the nation’s economy and the idea for SBDCs evolved. South Carolina was selected as one of the states to host a pilot program in 1979, prior to the founding of the nationwide program in 1980. The national program was modeled after the highly successful cooperative extension services of land grant institutions. In conjunction with respected business programs at major universities, the SBA created a business outreach that focused on client education. SBDCs are now often linked to business incubators and such is the case with the Columbia Area SBDC located in the USC Columbia Technology Incubator.
South Carolina’s SBDC is managed from the state director’s office located at the Moore School of Business at USC. The state is broken into four regions, each region supported further by a major university – USC, SC State, Clemson University or Winthrop University. Recognizing the value an SBDC holds for an area, colleges in smaller communities often host a local SBDC, providing office space and basic business functions.
Like other SBDCs across the nation, South Carolina’s program is funded by the SBA through a matching grant that allows both financial and in-kind contributions from each program’s many partners including private enterprise, state and local governments, institutions of higher learning and local economic development organizations.
Small Business Development Centers continue to play a crucial role in supporting the nation’s economy. According to the SBA, more than half of all private sector employees work for small businesses. In an economy struggling to produce jobs, many downsized workers have developed a high entrepreneurial spirit. Helping those who seek their fortune in the private enterprise system not only paves the way for their success, but often supports job growth.
The mission of the SC SBDC is to advance South Carolina’s economic development by helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses. This means not only assisting the formation of new ventures, but also finding ways to help existing businesses to compete in a demanding market and faltering companies to stay on course. Consultants have often been entrepreneurs themselves so they know how first-hand the importance of an accurate business plan or what a financial institution looks for when deciding whether to fund a business.
Every SBDC carefully tracks outcomes, keeping close tabs on the number of clients served and the end results of each entrepreneur’s journey. SC SBDCs offer free, confidential consulting on financing, marketing, employee management, importing and exporting, technology, market expansion, bookkeeping, manufacturing, government procurement and nuclear industry opportunities. There are also programs for veterans and minority-owned businesses. SC SBDC programs are constantly evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing economy, providing much needed services to South Carolina’s small business community.