The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO), is located on the campus of Black Hills State University. In 2009, the University, through a five-year grant awarded by the SBA Office of Women Business Ownership, established the SD CEO. The mission is to provide comprehensive training and business assistance, support and counseling for aspiring and established entrepreneurs on a statewide basis. Specific target audiences include Women, Women Veterans, Native Americans, Youth Entrepreneurs and the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged.
Since 2009, SD CEO has exceeded all of the goals set forth in the SBA Work Plans. Each, year the number of participants continued to expand from 535 attendees and clients in the first grant period to over 1200 in the third year grant period. SD CEO created a monthly Women In Networking (W.I.N.) organization, created and hosts the annual Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon and created and hosts SD CEO’s signature event, the South Dakota’s Women’s Business Conference. Helen Nessan-Merriman has served as the SD CEO Director since November 2009 and was named Honorary Commander for the 28th Contracting Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base in August of 2012.