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SBA Names Minnesota SBDC Center of Excellence

Release Date: 
Monday, April 7, 2014
Release Number: 
2014-15
Contact: 
Sherree Stratton (612) 370-2325

Duluth, Minn. – The Center for Economic Development and Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network, at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, has been named the Minnesota SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBDC Center of Excellence of the Year is selected annually to honor a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Service Center for excellence in providing value to small businesses and advancing program delivery and management through innovation.  Bruce Strong, State Director of the Minnesota SBDC Network, nominated the Center for Economic Development (CED) and Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network for this award.

The CED is one of nine regional SBDC service centers in Minnesota and has long been a pillar of that program.  The Regional Director in the center is Elaine Hansen, who has provided expert leadership and vision to the center for more than 10 years.  Program Coordinator, Sandi Larson, has more than 7 years’ experience at the CED and provides critical support and creativity to fulfill the SBDC mission.

As the name implies, the CED is more than the SBDC – they are a regional center that provides a host of economic development tools, programs and innovation that far exceed the bounds of a typical SBDC regional service center.  As part of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics and Swenson College of Science and Engineering, the CED coordinates several programs that are critical to the effectiveness of SBDC services provided.

UMD CED consulting programs provide one-on-one service to business start-ups and existing businesses focusing on feasibility studies, market research, surveys, business plan development, loan packaging, operational assistance, procurement assistance, manufacturing, management, compliance (EPA, OOSHA, Revue and Tax), problem solving, and information technology. 

Their programs include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) Business Group, the 21st Century Arrowhead Initiative, and the Student to Business Initiative (SBI).  The SBI program is one that actively engages UMD students in practical real-world business applications and affords them the opportunity to provide actual consulting services to SBDC clients on marketing and account projects.

In addition, the UMD CED operates an Economic Development Business Incubator that supports fledgling businesses that use or develop technology.  Incubator participants have access to the tools, structure and guidance necessary to maximize the firm’s change of success and growth in addition to providing them a physical office location at a cost significantly below market.

UMD CED offers outstanding quality business and computer training seminars and workshops to businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the region and state to enhance the knowledge and increase efficiencies of area businesses.  In addition, the Upper Midwest Economic Development Course is a week-long comprehensive educational experience sponsored by the CED and offered annually to economic development professionals.  It is based on the theory and practice of economic development fundamentals and is accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).  It fulfills the first prerequisites for those who wish to take the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) Examination.

UMD CED operates nine satellite locations in addition to the main office located in Duluth, to provide access to SBDC programs and assistance throughout the entire Northeastern Minnesota region.  After a careful assessment of their capabilities and meeting with several key stakeholders, the CED Director, Elaine Hansen, has agreed to take on the responsibility of hosting the Northwest region of Minnesota.  CED will be responsible to cover the entire northern third of Minnesota geographically.  It means establishing and staffing a new regional office and several new satellite offices to handle the load.  It means the University of Minnesota Duluth will essentially double their financial commitment to the program.  Further, Elaine has agreed to mentor a potential new host in hopes they will be able to step into the role in the near future.  Without the support of the CED, the entire Minnesota SBDC program would have suffered a crippling blow.

The Center for Economic Development and Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network, at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6, 2014, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

For more information:

Elaine Hansen, Director
The University of Minnesota, Duluth (regional host organization)
Center for Economic Development and
Northeast Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center Network
(UMD CED)
11 E. Superior Street, Suite 210
Duluth, MN 55802
218-726-7298
ehandsen@d.umn.edu