Chester, Pa .— During the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania SBDC network, the Widener University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was presented with its accreditation certificate from the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the national accrediting body for Small Business Development Centers under contract from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

A certificate of Accreditation was presented to Lenin Agudo, Director of the Widener University SBDC by Adriana Menchaca-Gendron, SBA Associate Administrator for Small Business Development Centers and C. E. “Tee” Rowe, President and CEO of America’s SBDC during the network’s annual meeting in York.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet congratulated the Pennsylvania SBDC stating “Small businesses create 2 out of 3 net, new jobs in the private sector, and hundreds of thousands of those jobs were created with support from Small Business Development Centers nationwide. Your work – day in and day out – is indispensable to America’s entrepreneurs.”

“This report is a testament to the skills and expertise of the network’s staff and the impact of their work in helping small businesses grow and prosper,” said Pennsylvania SBDC State Director Christian Conroy. “The report offers solid and strong observations of the team’s findings during their review, commendations on five program components, and several recommendations to help us in continuing to build on our long record of impressive performance,” he concluded.

“The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center Network is commended for both its dedication and commitment to the pursuit of continuous improvement,” stated Beth Melnik, Chair of the ASBDC Accreditation Committee. “Accreditation is important for each SBDC and is essential for the national SBDC program to be recognized as a provider of high quality business education and advising that results in credible economic impact.”

Widener University’s School of Business Administration Dean, Jayati Ghosh quotes,

“The SBDC at Widener University is an asset to the School of Business Administration. It helps us to be engaged with the small business community in Delaware County. SBDC connects SBA students with local businesses and emerging entrepreneurs and furthers the School’s commitment to promoting engagement with the community as well as offering experiential learning opportunities for the students.”

This is the fifth time the Pennsylvania SBDC program has been awarded accreditation. In this year’s report, the Pennsylvania program received five commendations which highlighted best practices:

-Hosting Grand Openings and Ribbon Cutting events for new business start-ups
-Engaging undergraduate and graduate students in the work of the SBDC
-Development of a comprehensive Disaster/Continuity checklist for businesses as part of its Business Continuity Services
-Close working relationship with economic development partner organizations
-Encouraging program recipients to inform stakeholders of the impact of SBDC services

The Pennsylvania SBDC also received supplemental accreditation for its specialized Technology Services. The Pennsylvania SBDC is one of only 12 SBDC programs in the country to earn this supplemental technology accreditation.

Services provided by the Pennsylvania SBDC Technology Team and resource partners include:

-Early stage product feasibility – market research, financial analysis, assessing market potential, commercialization potential
-Access to resources – tools, partnerships, regional expertise and referrals
-Access to financing– identification of financing sources, financial analysis, R&D grant identification and proposal reviews, pitch development and preparation for equity financing, gateway to Innovation Partnership

Widener University Center’s representative to the Technology Team is Bruce Downing, Government Marketing Specialist.

The accreditation review process, mandated by Congress, is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Program developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to assure that SBDC programs operate efficiently and effectively. Failure to achieve accreditation can result in the loss of federal funding.

A four-member team composed of the leaders of SBDC programs in Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Colorado conducted the Pennsylvania SBDC review. The team assessed several areas of the program, including leadership and organizational management, the strategic planning process, client and stakeholder focus, service delivery, and program performance. These standards ensure that the public investment in the program from the federal government, the state government, and the host institutions results in strong returns for Pennsylvania’s economy.

Since its inception, the Pennsylvania SBDC has helped aspiring entrepreneurs start more than 30,000 businesses, obtain over $2.5 billion in start-up and expansion capital, and increase sales by more than $12 billion. SBDC-assisted companies reported winning over $2.5 billion in government contracts, grew their international sales by more than $1.4 billion all while creating over 140,000 jobs that generate more than $796 million in new tax revenue.

In 2015, the Widener SBDC provided 3,139 hours of consulting services, while received a 90% satisfaction rate working with 302 clients in the Delaware County community. From these consulting hours, the SBDC was able to increase client sales by $2.6 million, secure $3.5 million in investments, while 105 jobs were created, added, and retained.

Feature Photo Caption: York, PA. January 1st, 2016, Lenin Agudo presented with its accreditation certificate from the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the national accrediting body for Small Business Development Centers under contract from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). From Left to Right, Christian Conroy, State Director, Pennsylvania SBDC; Lenin Agudo, Director, Widener SBDC; Adriana Menchaca-Gendron, Associate Administrator, OSBDC, SBA; George Slook, Business Consultant; C.E. “Tee” Rowe, President and CEO, America’s SBDC; Bruce Downing, Government Marketing Specialist; Peter Hornberger, Assistant Director, Widener SBDC.