North Idaho College’s Idaho Small Business Development Center recently earned high marks from the Small Business Administration, which selected it as one of the top 10 regional offices in the nation for 2009. The top 10 offices are being considered for recognition as the top SBDC regional office in the nation.
“This was a surprise; I didn’t even know we were in the running,” said Bill Jhung, regional director for NIC’s Idaho SBDC.
According to the college, in 2009 NIC’s Idaho SBDC helped save 109 jobs, create 144 new jobs and helped create $9.7 million in increased revenue through its business coaching and training services to small businesses in the region. NIC’s SBDC, headquartered in Post Falls, covers the counties in the northern Idaho Panhandle.
Demand for the center increased 25 percent during the year, with 330 clients served. A total of 75 percent of those clients were existing businesses, and 25 percent were startups seeking assistance.
With one full-time and four-part time staff members, NIC’s Idaho SBDC is among the smallest regional offices in the nation. A group of volunteer business coaches – all executives from large businesses or successful business owners themselves – augment the center’s offerings.
“Even though it’s been a challenging economy, we have been able to help businesses not only survive the recession, but for many of them, we helped improve margins and profit,” Jhung stated. “Some of the businesses have even experienced significant growth despite shrinkage in their industries.”
He said it’s unclear exactly when the SBA will announce its top regional office in the nation, but the announcement will likely come “in a couple of months.”