Beth Melnik, chair of the America’s Small Business Development Centers Accreditation Committee, announced the news Feb. 24.
“The review encompassed both the general accreditation standards and technology accreditation standards developed and deployed in cooperation with our federal funding partner, the U.S. Small Business Administration,” Melnik said.
America’s Small Business Development Centers, the national accrediting body for small business development center programs, reviews each state or regional network every five years. Mandated by Congress, the accreditation review process ensures that small business development center programs operate efficiently and effectively. Accreditation is also a requirement to receive federal funding.
Committee members Katie Sewell of Idaho and Jill Kline of Wyoming visited Arkansas Nov. 6-11, 2016, for the on-site portion of the review. The committee voted Feb. 3 to award full accreditation without conditions and included six commendations highlighting best practices in its final report.
“We set the bar high for ourselves, and this report illustrates the caliber of our services and staff,” Director Laura Fine said. “Throughout our program’s history, we have never had a condition with an accreditation review, which further demonstrates our commitment to excellence.”
The mission of the nationwide network of small business development centers is to help new entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and to assist existing businesses so they can remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy.
Hosted by leading universities, colleges, and state economic development agencies, and funded in part by the Small Business Administration, the network includes nearly 1,000 service centers that provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training.
In Arkansas, the lead center is located in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business. Regional offices are at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, and University of Arkansas campuses at Fayetteville and Monticello.
The centers have assisted Arkansas small businesses with obtaining nearly a half billion dollars in capital investment ($493,827,933) over the last decade, including an all-time best $69.9 million in 2016. Over that same timespan, the Arkansas small business center network has helped its clients create and retain more than 10,000 jobs.
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