Letter from the Director

August 31, 2016 - 5 minutes read

Keith Brophy

September 2017


The summer has been a busy time for the Michigan Small Business Development Center.  Our range of activity and impact is so broad that it can be a challenge to provide a brief recap, but there is one common denominator: making a meaningful difference for Michigan’s small businesses.

The annual Great Lakes Lenders Conference, focused on small business lending, is one of the ways this impact is achieved. The Michigan SBDC manages this event, working with great collaborators like the SBA, MEDC and others, to raise awareness and provide education on small business lending issues.  The conference was attended by over 400 lenders and business professionals this year and included speakers ranging from SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, to Lt. Governor Brian Calley, and a variety of national small business banking experts.  You can see a 90 second video recap of this conference, including various familiar SBDC and SBA faces, here.

In addition to key small business awareness-raising via events like Great Lakes Lenders Conference, the Michigan SBDC deals with both the routine and unanticipated. We continue to provide small business guidance on timeless business fundamentals across the state, on pace with our 2017 targets. We are on pace to exceed our state’s goals for capital formation, new business starts, clients counseled and training delivered. From our vantage point, and affirmed by our data, Michigan small business is strong and vibrant. At the same time, we assess our consulting and program offerings to continue to evolve them and keep them relevant, helping small business sustain and thrive over the long term. Key areas of continued enhancements and focus include raising small business cyber security awareness, economic inclusion, new training approaches, and looking at how small business transforms to be competitive in 2030 in the face of shifting models and technologies.

The mission of the national SBDC model goes beyond routine counseling, as we provide small business support in a dynamic and ever-changing world. Perhaps nothing underscores this like a major natural catastrophic event. A key part of the federally chartered mission of the nation’s SBDCs is to help small business get back on its feet when disaster strikes. The Texas SBDC is currently deeply engaged in assisting the small businesses devastated by Hurricane Harvey, and the recovery efforts are estimated to stretch four years or more. We continue to monitor these needs to provide assistance and insights where it may be of value.

Closer to home, our Michigan SBDC provides support for unplanned adverse economic circumstances as well. An adverse small business event can occur from an unanticipated economic change in a region, just as it can come from flood or hurricane. Last year we delivered additional economic support to the challenged urban economy of Flint, under a special SBA Supplemental grant with measurable results. This summer, we have been awarded a new grant to address another of our state’s hard-hit zones, the areas of the Upper Peninsula impacted by the heavy withdrawal of the mining industry. The Michigan SBDC received an SBA “Portability Grant” targeted at helping areas that have been subject to economic distress. This three-year grant will allow us to add substantial focus and support to this area.  Likewise, it coincides with the movement of the Upper Peninsula regional SBDC host to Michigan Tech University. You can read an article about this initiative here.

We couldn’t achieve the reach and results of our program without a very strong team and a fantastic network of partners. We have moved through a period of various team transitions over the spring and summer, including the retirements of great long-term Regional Directors Richard King, Marsha Lyttle, and Christine Greve. Their legacy is honored by the great new team members we have added, building on the tradition of success and passionate commitment to helping small business succeed. Regional Directors added this year include Wendy Thomas (acting SE Michigan), Janis Mueller (I-69 Trade Corridor), Kristi Kozubal (Great Lakes Bay Region), and Ed Garner (West Michigan Region). The Michigan SBDC continues to evolve to meet the needs facing small business, stands ready to address the anticipated and the unanticipated, and build a vibrant small business Michigan economy!

Here’s to propelling small business!

Keith Brophy