PULLMAN, Wash. – WSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) is all about engagement, says CAHNRS Dean Daniel Bernardo, so it makes perfect sense for the Washington Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to be aligned with his college.
 
Formerly part of the Office of Advancement and External Affairs, the Washington SBDC was moved to CAHNRS in late spring when that administrative unit was restructured following the departure of the former vice president, John Gardner. Beginning Sept. 1, Anson Fatland will join WSU as the associate vice president for economic development and external affairs, but the SBDC will remain with CAHNRS and WSU Extension.
 
CAHNRS and extension are “all about bringing the university to all 39 counties of the state,” Bernardo said, and that makes it a good fit for SBDC. “I think it is very complementary,” he said, smiling. “It almost makes too much sense.”
 
Washington SBDC Director Brett Rogers agrees. “Congress conceived the SBDC program in the late ‘70s to do for business what extension had been doing for agriculture,” he said.
 
With 28 certified business advisors and four international trade specialists located in 24 centers across the state, the SBDC delivers business assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners in somewhat the same way that WSU county extension scientists link farmers with agricultural information.
 
“Finding ways to join forces with extension to deliver value-added, outcome-based technical assistance to rural businesses and agribusinesses across the state is an intriguing proposition,” Rogers said, and one with great potential.
 
The Washington SBDC has been providing one-to-one business advising, at no cost, to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state for more than 30 years. It is part of the Association of  Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) network, which was founded in 1979 as a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. colleges and universities and economic development agencies. The ASBDC now features more than 1,000 SBDC centers with networks in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several U.S. Territories.
 
In 2010, business advisors with the Washington SBDC Network met with more than 2,552 clients. According to those clients, working with an SBDC advisor enabled them to create or save an estimated 898 jobs and access more than $47 million in capital.
 
When the Washington SBDC was first created, it was attached to the College of Business. In 2007 it was moved to the Office of Economic Development and Global Engagement, which later became Advancement and External Affairs.
 
Bernardo said the new organizational structure will allow the SBDC to continue doing the work it has been doing, but with enhanced opportunities for collaboration and cross referrals.
 
CAHNRS, particularly through WSU Extension, has focused its engagement activities primarily on agriculture, food, natural resources and human science. But, Bernardo said, economic development is becoming increasingly important for all areas of the university. 
 
“Research universities are important economic engines for society, and it is now more critical than ever that we demonstrate our relevance through positive contributions to economic growth,” he said.
 
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Source contacts:
Daniel Bernardo, bernardo@wsu.edu, 509-335-4561
Brett Rogers, barogers@wsu.edu, 509-358-7765
 
Media contact:
Hope Tinney, hopebt@wsu.edu, 509-335-8741