George Mason University will play a greater role in the growth of small business within the state of Virginia with the opening of a new office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in downtown Manassas.
Mason-led since 2004, the center aims to spur the state economy by providing sound business advice, education and resources to small businesses throughout the commonwealth. Mason serves as the state network’s lead institution among 14 different organizations, directly staffing three of the state’s 27 SBDC offices—including the Mason SBDC—while overseeing the management and administration of the rest.
The city of Manassas provided $15,000 to kicks things off, but Jody Keenan, the state director for the Virginia SBDC Network, said the funding was just part of the story.
“It’s partial funding to get us started, but it’s the enthusiasm from the Manassas Economic Development Authority and mayor’s office to have the Mason SBDC services available in the downtown historic district of Manassas,” Keenan said. “The city has recognized the need for investment in small business counseling and mentoring services, and we are the perfect fit for that demand.”
The new office in downtown Manassas opened on April 3 and will provide local small business owners with more counselors and added awareness of small business issues at no charge and at a location more convenient to them, as well as access to the center’s proven business methodologies, such as lean startup, in local workshops and seminars.
“Expansion of SBDC services within the commonwealth is always welcome,” Keenan said. “The Virginia SBDC measures its economic impact of services to Virginia and adding new resources that increases that impact.”
Timm Johnson, the director of the Mason SBDC, is excited about the center’s latest contribution to the regional economy.
“The Mason SBDC—as part of the Virginia SBDC and George Mason University —are pleased to provide the vital business counseling and mentoring services to Manassas small businesses,” he said.
Since its inception in 1987, the Mason SBDC has served more than 6,000 clients and played a pivotal role fueling the Northern Virginia economy and business climate, according to the organization’s website. The organization’s core counseling areas are marketing, business strategy and finance.
SBDC services are available to all Mason students and could be especially helpful to students and faculty looking to build a company centered on innovation or technology.
Additional SBDC plans for collaboration with Prince William County are also in the works, Keenan said.