The Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been awarded the 2021 Economic Development Advocate of the Year award from the Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA).

The award was one of seven awards announced during WEDAs winter conference last week and is given to an individual or organization that has made a significant and/or innovative contribution to an economic development project over the past year.  

“Washington state was the first state impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and local businesses have felt the impact longer than any in the nation,” said SBA Seattle District Director Kerrie Hurd. “As an SBA-funded resource partner, the business advisers from the Washington Small Business Development Center have stepped up when our small businesses needed them most.”

The Washington SBDC network includes more than 40 business advisors located in communities across the state who provide technical assistance on any phase of business development and in any industry from retail and restaurants to manufacturing and professional services. One-to-one SBDC advising is confidential, tailored to the needs of the client and provided at no cost.

According to Hurd, “The Washington SBDC team is the reason many businesses are still open today. They are the platinum standard for SBA Resource Partners nationwide.”

Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Yakima County Development Association, presented the award during the virtual celebration, saying the Washington SBDC had “scaled up, worked tirelessly and made a big impact” on the small business community during the course of the past year.

Over the past year, the Washington SBDC network provided one-to-one assistance to more than 4,000 small business owners who were struggling to respond to COVID-related business restrictions and closures. Those SBDC clients credited their advisors with helping them obtain more than $62 million in COVID-related SBA assistance. In addition to providing no-cost, confidential, customized advising, SBDC business advisors also presented webinars and online training sessions that were attended by more than 18,400 participants.

“I thank WEDA for recognizing the work SBDC business advisors have done over the past year and are continuing to do, and I thank the WEDA membership for being partners with us in this effort,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC. “This pandemic has reinforced what we have always known—small business development is critical to the success of our communities and the small business ecosystem is stronger when we work together.”

The SBDC advising staff provide management advising in a variety of areas including accounting, financing and loan packaging, capital acquisition, business planning, marketing, human resources, economic development, strategic planning, and financial analysis in various stages of the business life cycle: pre-venture or early stage, startup, expansion, growth and exit.

The Washington SBDC receives funding support from the SBA, from WSU and from more than two dozen other funding partners at the city or county or regional level, including institutions of higher education, economic development agencies, ports, and civic and business organizations.

In addition to 19 SBDC centers staffed by WSU employees, nine additional Washington SBDC centers are hosted by Western Washington University, Highline College, Green River College, South Puget Sound Community College, the Economic Alliance of Okanogan County, One Redmond and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship.

The Washington SBDC has been assisting small business owners in Washington state for more than 40 years. Because of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SBDC business advisors are continuing to work remotely, but are fully accessible by email, cell phone or teleconference.

For more about the Washington SBDC, go to wsbdc.org or call 833-492-7232.