The Gannon University Small Business Development Center helps entrepreneurs across northwest Pennsylvania realize their dreams of business ownership by providing consulting services and resources that help businesses start, grow and prosper.
This November, university and business leaders gathered to mark the SBDC’s 40th anniversary. We got in touch with SBDC Director Maggie Horne to learn more about the Gannon SBDC’s history of impact.
Q: How did the Gannon SBDC get its start?
“The Small Business Development Centers were established by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1980 as a pilot program to assist small businesses in accessing resources. Gannon University welcomed an SBDC to campus in 1981 to support a healthy Erie and regional economic environment.”
Q: How has the SBDC evolved over the years to become what it is now?
“Gannon SBDC has evolved to respond to the challenges and opportunities in the small business community. The team has consisted of consultants who provide clients with a range of technical assistance. Most recently, in response to COVID-19, the SBDC launched a Tech Team of Gannon students to assist regional small businesses with website and social media development at no cost. For this, the Tech Team was recognized with an Award of Excellence by the PASBDC Lead office.”
Q: What has been the impact of the SBDC in our community and region?
“The SBDC provides and connects our regional small businesses with resources to face the ever-changing business environment. We’re the only statewide, nationally accredited program that provides high-quality, one-on-one consulting, training and information resources to empower new and existing businesses. We’ve worked with more than 17,000 clients over the last 40 years and developed relevant training programs to help entrepreneurs find business solutions.”
Maggie Horne, director of Gannon's Small Business Development Center.
Q: What is meaningful to you about being a part of the SBDC?
“I worked in the private sector for about 20 years before coming to the SBDC and have experience in the financial/valuation sector working with companies across the U.S. I love sharing knowledge with our small businesses and helping them through entrepreneurial challenges. The most memorable part for me is being part of “Undercover Billionaire.” A production team had come to us with the request to film the journey of an entrepreneur; it was certainly a surprise when this person was later revealed as Glenn Stearns, a successful billionaire entrepreneur. I’m proud that our team was a part of a successful series that is relevant to what we do every day.”
Q: What is the significance of this 40-year celebration?
“It means that the assistance we provide is still relevant to the people we serve. Celebrating 40 years of assisting businesses in achieving dreams and goals is a phenomenal milestone. We did not do this alone, but with the support of Gannon University, SBA and DCED. I’m so thankful to everyone who has been supportive and helped us reach this milestone.”
By Brianna Mariotti, marketing and content strategist