Happy November from the North Dakota Small Business Development Network (ND SBDC, ND PTAC, and VBOC of the Dakotas)! As always, we hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’d like to once again express how thankful we are here at the ND SBDC for you and your support of small business in North Dakota.
As most know the ND SBDC is a resource partner of the Small Business Association. What you might not know, however, is that there are a number of other resource programs that operate alongside us in North Dakota and we each have our own areas of expertise.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA is the federal agency that supports small businesses and the smaller, more specific and hands-on programs listed below. North Dakota has SBA offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks. While the district offices do provide businesses with tools for enhancing and growing their businesses, they also oversee the delivery of the SBA’s programs throughout the state. Those programs are all listed below: Women’s Business Center, Veterans Business Outreach Center, SCORE, and the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers.
Women’s Business Center (WBC)
The Women’s Business Center helps women advance their careers, businesses, and leadership skills. They provide entrepreneurial opportunities for women and at the national level work to secure economic justice for women business owners. Their goal of supporting women in business allows them to focus on the specific challenges that women may face in the private sector and helps connect women with those who may have had similar experiences. WBC empowers women in business with leadership roles, connects them to other women, and provides access to federal, state, and local opportunities for assistance in areas such as funding that are only available to women.
Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC)
The Veterans Business Outreach Center is a one-stop-shop for service members, veterans, and military spouses looking to start, purchase, or grow a business. They are well-known for their Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot programs. Similar to the WBC, VBOC of the Dakotas serves a specific population in order to assist them in their specific needs and challenges. Additionally, the program connects them to the resources that are only available for service members, veterans, and their spouses. VBOC of the Dakotas functions directly alongside of the ND SBDC, and is also hosted and administered by the UND Center for Business Engagement & Development.
SCORE is a network of volunteer business mentors that provide no-cost advice to small business owners. The program connects entrepreneurs with specific business mentors who can answer questions and give advice based on personal experience about the ins-and-outs of running a business in one’s local community. This program is especially beneficial for helping small business owners develop a network of connections within the business community as mentors can often help bridge gaps and use their own connections to assist new businesses.
Where does the ND SBDC Fit In?
The North Dakota Small Business Development Centers (ND SBDC) is the most all-encompassing of the SBA programs and provides the most specific, hands-on assistance for businesses at any stage of their existence, whether the business is simply an idea or has been up and running for years. Anyone can request the no-cost business advising services of the ND SBDC at one of our nine local offices in North Dakota. Our certified business advisors help small business owners prepare business plans, connect them to lenders, guide preparation of the documents needed for approval of funds, assist in business transition planning, and help businesses put together disaster plans, among many other things.
While these programs all have niche areas of business assistance, we also often combine areas of expertise and resources to develop trainings and online webinars for business owners and entrepreneurs. Registration for upcoming events as well as previous recordings of these “Business Builder Workshops” can be found online. While in the past they have been mostly offered in person, the workshops have been moved online for the foreseeable future, both to provide safety to our clients and to help the trainings attain a broader reach.
Together, all of these programs assist in creating a wonderful network of support for small businesses in North Dakota, and we are very thankful to our partners and what they bring to the table. This strong infrastructure of support is integral to small businesses in North Dakota and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of the team.
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network