SD16 - Review of the Virginia Small Business Development Center Program

Executive Summary:
In 1980, Congress enacted the Small Business Act authorizing the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish small business development centers (SBDCs) in all states and territories. The purpose of the SBDCs was to create abroad-based system of assistance to current and prospective small business owners. Virginia was one of the last states to join the program, establishing the Virginia Small Business Development Center (Virginia SBDC) network in 1990.

The U.S. Small Business Administration contracts with the Virginia Department of Business Assistance (DBA) to operate the Virginia SBDC program. In turn, DBA contracts with private and public organizations that "host" SBDC service centers through-out the State. The Virginia SBDC network has grown substantially during its 11-year existence and currently consists of the lead center housed within DBA, 17 local service centers, and 11 satellite offices located across the State. These local centers are charged with providing management and technical assistance to help small businesses create and retain jobs and otherwise improve their profitability. In addition, the centers provide assistance to people interested in starting a business. The Virginia SBDC program defines its client population as small- to medium-sized businesses having less than 100 employees.

Senate Joint Resolution 233 (Appendix A) of the 2000 General Assembly directed GLARE to study the policies and procedures governing the formation of small business development centers (SBDCs) and other local organizations structured to assist and develop small businesses, to examine the existing procedures for SBDCs to receive State and federal funding under programs administered by the DBA, and to determine the appropriate degree of control that DBA should have over the operations and personnel decisions of SBDCs. This report presents the results of that review.