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2009 News Releases

Longwood Small Business Development Center celebrates 20th anniversary

May 27, 2009

Jerry Hughes, the first director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center, speaks at their 20th anniversary celebration on May 20 Jerry Hughes, the first director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center, spoke at their 20th anniversary celebration held on May 20

The Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.

"For 20 years, the Longwood Small Business Development Center has been the face of economic development for Longwood and has provided assistance for regional businesses and individual business owners in countless ways," Longwood President Patricia Cormier said at the LSBDC's "Platinum Anniversary Celebration," held May 20 on campus.

"When Longwood was chosen as one of the state's first small business development centers, the mission was to help new and small businesses develop, apply new technology, formulate new methods of training, retrain the labor force, and strengthen the region's economy," continued Dr. Cormier, who noted that her father owned a small business in Westport, Conn. "The mission mirrors the mission of the LSBDC today, and we are succeeding and reaching our goals. Since 1989, some 6,567 clients have received consulting services, 9,647 jobs have been created or retained by those clients, and $336.8 million in capital has been invested by those clients and their funding sources as a result of SBDC assistance."

Speakers also included the current LSBDC director, Sheri McGuire, and both former directors, Jerry Hughes (1989-99) and Ken Copeland (1999-2004). Hughes is now the executive director of the Patrick County Education Foundation, and Copeland, who previously had directed the LSBDC's Martinsville office, is currently executive director of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation and director of economic development.

"Wherever we do our work, we must never forget that our mission is to work in the best interest of small business owners who build our business communities," McGuire said. "We must never lose the focus of our mission. I think Longwood SBDC has always had the best interest of the small business community in our hearts. Things have changed greatly in the last 20 years, both with SBDC and with our clients, but the fundamental mission is the same: to be a resource for growth, for expertise, and for research in the small business community."

Former LSBDC Director Ken Copeland speaks at the 20th anniversary celebration
Former LSBDC Director Ken Copeland also spoke at the celebration

The LSBDC, one of the state's first two small business development centers, provides free education, research and consulting services for new and existing businesses in 20 counties and six cities in South-Central Virginia. It has offices in Farmville, South Boston (which opened in 1991), Martinsville (1996), Petersburg (1999), and Danville (2004). "It's been a true partnership with area economic development officials and local governments," Dr. Cormier said.

What is now the LSBDC evolved from the Business Innovation Center, started in 1987 and directed by Dr. Larry Minks, a member of the Longwood business faculty. It originally was part of what was then the School of Business. A letter of congratulation from Dr. Minks, now acting president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, was read at the 20th anniversary celebration by Dr. Wayne McWee, Longwood's provost and vice president for academic affairs, who also was instrumental in establishing the Business Innovation Center. The establishment of the Business Innovation Center, Dr. Minks said in his letter, "represented a high point in my professional career and also for those involved in the start-up of the operation."

Others who attended the May 20 celebration included Longwood President Emeritus William F. Dorrill, who was president when the LSBDC was launched; Carroll Thackston, former director of the LSBDC office in South Boston; state Sen. Frank Ruff, whose district includes Prince Edward County; and clients and supporters from throughout the LSBDC service region.