The Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED), formally established May 1, will forge a closer link with area economic development efforts by making the university’s research, public service and outreach resources more accessible for communities, development officials and other business support organizations. The office will build upon the relationships in the business community that the university has established through the Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC).
"Our goal is to be a connector, particularly between our rural communities and Longwood, to discover and facilitate win-win partnerships that support economic development and expand opportunities for staff and students in all of the university’s academic areas," said Sheri McGuire, Longwood’s director of economic development.
In recent years, staff and students in the LSBDC have taken on projects that are "above and beyond typical SBDC services," including economic impact studies, a market analysis to support Downtown Farmville Inc. and an entrepreneurial development plan to support Virginia’s Growth Alliance, said McGuire. "These are the types of projects that OCED will expand upon," she said.
The LSBDC has since 1989 provided assistance to more than 3,800 small business clients in business planning, financing and marketing. It serves 26 localities in southern Virginia through offices in Farmville, Petersburg, South Boston, Danville and Martinsville. Longwood will continue to operate all offices of its SBDC network, which will be headquartered at OCED. Beginning in the fall 2013 semester, OCED will be housed in the new Campus Walk complex at 315 W. Third St., two blocks from campus.
"As the only four-year public university in southern Virginia, it is important for Longwood to recognize its role in supporting economic growth and in generating impact within our rural communities," said Interim President Marge Connelly. "Our SBDC has long been, and will continue to be, an important part of our outreach services. This office will allow us to engage in community and economic development on new and innovative levels."