When the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Alamosa recently lost its organizational sponsor, Adams State University offered itself as a replacement, ensuring that a key initiative designed to support small businesses remains in the San Luis Valley.
The Small Business Development Center program (SBDC) is an initiative of the Small Business Administration. SBDCs provide counseling and training to small businesses, with the purpose of supporting business start-ups and existing business expansion. Without a host in Alamosa, the SBDC’s functions would have been absorbed by an SBDC in a different part of the state.
“Losing the SBDC here would have been a huge loss,” said Liz Thomas Hensley, professor of business and chair of the Adams State School of Business. “It’d be another program that covers the Valley but is located somewhere else. It wouldn’t have been the same.”
SBDC and the School of Business Are a Natural Fit
The San Luis Valley’s economy would suffer without small businesses, said Hensley. Hosting the SBDC is one way that Adams State recognizes its role in supporting the region, not only by educating students but also by providing support to the business community.
“Small businesses are the economic foundation of our country. Yet small business owners and entrepreneurs rarely have the funding or the resources they need,” said Hensley. “What’s nice about housing the SBDC here is the idea that we’re all working together as a community.
Besides, Hensley points out, Adams State has always had a close connection with the SBDC. Through the SBDC, students have completed internships and gained access to business leaders during classroom discussions. Now the potential is even greater for collaboration and cooperation among community, students, and alumni.
“This partnership will open even more opportunities for internships with SBDC and the small businesses it helps,” said Hensley. The connection will be even more direct. We’ve always had a strong connection, but this will make it even stronger.”
In addition to internships, students will have opportunities for mentoring and networking. Hensley envisions a mutually beneficial relationship between Adams State and SBDC, in which local businesses receive support, and students interact with business owners and community leaders.
“Interactions with the business community complement the students’ classroom learning. More than ever, the young adults going through our programs are interested in entrepreneurship,” said Hensley. “Even if students don’t plan on starting businesses, their future employers want them to have an entrepreneurial mindset.”