McGrath named State Director for Washington Small Business Development Center

Closeup of Sheryl McGrath
Sheryl McGrath

Sheryl McGrath has been named the next state director of the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC). McGrath, who has been the associate state director since 2019, begins her new position on April 3. Duane Fladland, who has been state director since 2014, will retire April 30.

“The Washington SBDC has grown exponentially over the past six or seven years and we are really excited to bring Sheryl in to build on the fantastic work being done across the state,” said Brian Kraft, assistant vice president in the Office of Research at Washington State University. Kraft, who led the search for Fladland’s successor, said Fladland had done a remarkable job guiding the organization through turbulent times and he is looking forward to McGrath setting direction for what comes next.

The Washington SBDC is a network of more than 40 business advisors who work with small business owners across the state to help them start, grow or buy/sell a business. The Washington SBDC has been hosted by Washington State University since 1980 and is part of the America’s SBDC, a network of 62 statewide or regional SBDC programs that offer no-cost, confidential,  one-to-one business advising through more than 1,000 SBDC centers across the country.

“It’s a privilege to lead such a dynamic and forward-looking organization,” McGrath said. “I believe in servant leadership and I look forward to working with our talented staff and partners to provide the resources and support that small businesses need to grow and thrive.”

McGrath, who owned a restaurant in Spokane for five years, has extensive experience in public service. Prior to joining the Washington SBDC, McGrath was president and CEO of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation (AgForestry), a nonprofit dedicated to helping those working in agriculture, forestry and natural resources develop leadership skills and affect policy at the state and federal levels. 

“The success of the SBDC program truly depends on public-private partnerships, and Sheryl’s depth of experience in civic affairs and her passion for small business will undoubtably lead to more collaboration and productive partnerships going forward,” said Fladland.  

As State Director, Ms. McGrath will lead the Washington SBDC in its mission to help small businesses start, grow, and thrive. She will oversee a network of more than 40 business advisors working in 30 communities across the state. While WSU is the statewide host, there are more than six subrecipient organizations that contribute to the SBDC program, including Western Washington University, Highline College, Green River College, South Puget Sound Community College, OneRedmond, Okanogan County Economic Alliance, Pierce College and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. 

The Washington SBDC is funded through a cooperative agreement with WSU and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). About half the funding comes from the SBA and the other half comes from state and local funding partners including Washington State Department of Commerce, institutions of higher education, economic development agencies and civic and business groups. 

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