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Ben Smith, manager of the Clemson Area Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was recently selected as the 2018 South Carolina State Star. The State Star award, the highest accolade achievable by SBDC employees, recognizes extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network. Smith was recognized with other State Star recipients from SBDCs across the country during the 38th Annual America’s SBDC national conference in Washington, D.C., September 4-7, 2018.

“It is an honor to recognize, for the second time, Ben Smith as our South Carolina State Star,” said South Carolina SBDC State Director Michele Abraham when announcing Smith’s selection as the 2018 ASBDC State Star. “In addition to championing his clients as they pursue their dreams, he has been instrumental in making the SBDC a vital player in the economic landscape of Upstate communities. The SC SBDC is very fortunate to have Ben at the helm of the Clemson Area SBDC,” said Abraham.

Smith has managed the Clemson Area SBDC located on the campus of Clemson University since 2003. His center serves clients throughout Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties. In the past year alone, Smith has conducted more than 326 counseling sessions and assisted 122 clients generating more than $4 million in investments resulting in the creation or retention of 102 jobs. In addition to direct client consultation, Smith has provided support for SC SBDC statewide specialty services such as export feasibility, business valuation, exit planning and strategic growth planning.

Like all SC SBDC network professionals, Ben draws upon his breadth and depth of experience when advising clients. Prior to joining the SC SBDC in 1998, Ben served as a banking officer in Greenwood, South Carolina.

Smith graduated Summa Cum Laude from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and later attained a Master of Business Administration with honors from Clemson University. Ben holds facilitator certifications from the national FastTrac and NxLevel programs, the Economic Development Finance Professional Certification, the Economic Development Certification of Achievement and the Certified Global Business Professional designation. Smith’s list of SC SBDC awards include 2007 State Star, 2011 Individual Achievement Award and 2014 Individual Achievement Award.

“Ben has performed admirably in developing and nurturing strategic relationships with economic and community development initiatives in Anderson, Clemson, Easley, Pickens, Seneca, and Williamston,” said SC SBDC Clemson Region Director Jill Burroughs. “When working with clients, he does more than provide assistance; he builds enduring relationships that help entrepreneurs thrive as small business owners.”

“After meeting with Ben I realized he possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of how to best expand the footprint of my business,” said David Saidat, owner of CocoBon Chocolatier, who contacted Ben to enlist his assistance. “I relied on his expertise to shift my wholesale-focused operation to a retail enterprise with a storefront presence.”

Smith said that while he is grateful to be named the 2018 State Star, it is the small business owner who deserves recognition. “Small businesses are responsible for creating the vast majority of new jobs in the community. As the manager of the Clemson Area SBDC I am fortunate to be able to help these hardworking entrepreneurs grow thriving businesses, while at the same time fulfilling my personal aspiration to ‘make somebody’s life better today,’” said Smith. “This is my true professional calling and I am proud to be part of such a dedicated team of professionals serving the small businesses of South Carolina.”


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