Wisconsin, among the nation’s first Small Business Development Center networks, will observe the 40th anniversary of the SBDC with celebrations across the state on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, according to a Monday, March 2, press release from the University of Wisconsin System.

Small Business Development Center counseling has helped dozens of business owners and, indirectly, hundreds of employees across Barron County, noted Dave Armstrong, director of the Barron County Economic Development Corporation.

“We’ve used the UW-Eau Claire SBDC so often that they send (Eau Claire SBDC director) Luke Kempen to Rice Lake every Thursday to meet with (local clients),” Armstrong said March 2. “They have been integral to every (small business project) we have done.”

Barron businesses that have used SBDC services include Seasons Café, Blueberry Line Coffee Shop, Rolling Oaks Supper Club and The Porch, he added.

Armstrong said his office joined hands with Kempen and the SBDC to help get each of those businesses started and/or to help the new owners who purchased the businesses.

“SBDC works with (business owners) on their financial forecasts,” he said. “As a certified public accountant, Luke puts together a plan to forecast where (the business owners) will be, financially, after three years in business, considering the debt load of purchasing the business and the operating expenses. Most of the businesses beat out the forecast with the income they earn.”

According to the UW-System release, the late Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, helped lead the effort in Congress to pass the Small Business Development Act of 1980.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network’s no-cost, confidential consulting and business education are accessible to anyone anywhere across 13 locations throughout the state. In 2019, the SBDC served 4,658 clients, resulting in $91.3 million in capital investment, 300 new businesses and 19,717 jobs supported.

The University of Wisconsin System has hosted the Wisconsin SBDC since its inception. State revenue matches financial support from the federal U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Our universities are proud partners of the SBDC network and know what a vital service it provides to businesses in our communities,” said UW System President Ray Cross.

With nearly 1,000 locations across the country, SBDCs provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources needed to succeed. In 2018, America’s SBDC clients experienced annual sales growth of 17.7 percent, almost 4.5 times more than the national average. SBDC assistance resulted in 99,194 jobs created; $7 billion in sales growth; $5.6 billion in capital investments; and 16,499 new businesses started.