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UC Merced SBDC Regional Network: Cultivating Small Businesses and Stimulating the Economy

May 24, 2004

MERCED, CA — The UC Merced Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Regional Network is all about growing small businesses in Central California.

As a primary provider of quality business education and counseling services to existing and potential small business owners in its 15-county service area, the network is committed to supporting both the success of individual entrepreneurs and sustainable economic growth for the region.

UC Merced recently was awarded a $1.1 million renewable grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to operate the network's lead office and provide vision, leadership and administrative oversight for the regional network. The grant represents a one-year extension on the initial contract for almost $600,000 UC Merced received to oversee the network's SBDCs in Bakersfield, Fresno, Gilroy, Modesto and San Luis Obispo as well as satellite centers in Merced and Visalia.

“Our network's mission is to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn their ideas into businesses, to help small businesses expand and to provide the information small business owners need to make critical decisions,” says Helen Sullivan, director of the UC Merced SBDC Regional Network.

To support small businesses, the network offers services including one-on-one consulting, technical assistance on loan packaging, dissemination of business information, workshops and conferences. Business plan development, financial planning, marketing and advertising, employee hiring and other common business issues are addressed with the general goal of improving management and productivity. All services are free of charge or provided for a minimal fee.

“Throughout the nation, small businesses represent a vast majority of employers, generate more than half of the new jobs each year and employ about half of all private sector employees,” Sullivan adds. “As the backbone of business in Central California, small businesses play an essential role in stimulating the economy of the region and the state.”

Complementing its role as an incubator of small business, the UC Merced SBDC Regional Network helps create economic opportunities and growth. Economic impact data from the first quarter of 2004 indicate the network's efforts resulted in sales increases of $1.8 million, 21 loans totaling $1.9 million and the creation of 64 regional jobs. Over a five-year period, the regional centers trained more than 21,700 small business owners, and helped create 2,946 new jobs and facilitate approximately $110 million in business loans.

“We're building on the solid foundation set by the Central California SBDCs over the years and look forward to increasing our impact on the economy,” Sullivan says.

The network is a partnership between the SBA, UC Merced, Gavilan College, Cuesta College, Bakersfield College, California State University at Fresno and the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance. Additional financial support is provided by a number of community and corporate contributors.

To find out more about the UC Merced SBDC Regional Network, please visit the network's new Web site at www.sbdc.ucmerced.edu to learn of services available to existing and potential small businesses, upcoming special events, news and contact information. For additional information by phone, please call the UC Merced SBDC Regional Network Office at (559) 241-7406.