Helping Businesses Thrive
The Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network works to assist businesses at every stage—from concept to reinvention.
By Micaela Myers
In Powell, two doctors start a direct primary care practice. Meanwhile, in Cheyenne, a woman opens a pet grooming business. In Lander, a couple buys and reinvents a framing store. And in Jackson, a company earns an award to help build a robotic prototype.
All these businesses and countless others receive assistance each year from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, a partnership among the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that includes eight regional offices around the state, offering business expertise and specialties to help residents launch, grow and reinvent their businesses.
The SBDC Network includes a host of programs designed to help with all stages of business, including planning, marketing, growth, financial services, government procurement, risk management and technology commercialization services. Confidential one-on-one advising comes at no charge. The network also hosts up to 80 free or low-cost trainings a year.
New this year, the SBDC Network received a $100,000 Portable Assistance Grant from the SBA to aid coal-dependent communities. “The Portable Assistance Grant will allow us to provide focused support to small businesses to help them improve their efficiency and to retool their strategies for a shifting market as necessary,” says Jill Kline, state director for the Wyoming SBDC Network. “We also will be able to provide much-needed information to displaced workers who may be considering the options of starting their own businesses and need that additional guidance to get them started.”
Also new this year, the SBDC Network earned accreditation in technology-based business assistance. “The technology designation is given to those SBDCs that demonstrate an integration of technology commercialization assistance for small businesses throughout the organization,” Kline says.
“This technology assistance includes supporting businesses in all aspects of product development, intellectual property, those applying for Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) awards, helping with technology transfer from UW and providing training, education and assistance to help advance technology commercialization throughout the state.”
William Gern, vice president of research and economic development at UW points out that only 15 others SBDC’s nationwide hold a technology designation. “I urge businesses across the state, whether they’re technology based or not, to take advantage of the multitude of resources available to them from the university and state,” he says.
“SBIR transformed our company,” says Mark Weitz of Kennon Aircraft Covers in Sheridan of the Small Business Innovative Research awards that have helped the company prepare winning proposals for a variety of new products since 2006.
The network is also working with the WBC and Manufacturing-Works on a new export partnership program. “We’re all going to work together to deliver additional in-depth, focused, exporting assistance,” Kline says.
The WBC’s Business Resource Network includes the SBDC Network and a number of other other programs. They all work together to refer anyone who walks in the door to the correct services. “We want to make sure any client who comes in gets access to all the resources available to them,” Kline says.
You can learn more about all the programs in the network at wyomingbusiness.org/resources, or visit the SBDC Network at wyomingsbdc.org.
Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative
The mission of the Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative is to assist all qualified Wyoming small businesses and individuals in accessing the federal funding opportunities provided by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which amounts to approximately $2 billion annually.
Fiscal year 2016:
$1,759,849 total federal awards
$304,128 total state funding
16 years of assisting clients:
$54,013,092 total federal awards
220 total awards
SBDC Network Numbers
Fiscal year 2016:
$30,013,181 capital impact
2,188 jobs created or retained
1,505 clients assisted
117 business startups
67 training events with 849 attendees
22 years of assisting clients:
$243,352,373 capital impact
13,654 jobs created or retained
43,863 clients served