Solano-Napa SBDC highlights people, services on National SBDC Day

Tim Murrill, Solano-Napa Small Business Development Center director and Heather Henry, president/executive director of the Workforce Development Board of Solano County talk partnerships and community success on National SBDC Day March 16. (Photo by Kimberly K. Fu, The Reporter)

The following article originally appeared in the Vacaville Reporter on March 17, 2022


What is National SBDC Day?

Small business owners in Solano and Napa counties, and elsewhere across the nation, should make it their business to find out.

Small Business Development Centers, created in 1976, offer invaluable free resources to businesses with 500 employees or less. Resources include everything from finance help to crafting business plans to marketing and more.

The Solano-Napa Small Business Development Center, part of the Northern California SBDC Network, has helped more than 1,700 businesses open and thrive in both counties.

Highlights between 2020-2021 include:

  • 475 jobs created,
  • 78 businesses created,
  • $63 million in capital secured,
  • $17 million in new taxable revenue generated by clients,
  • 1,671 business received one-on-one advising,
  • 9,107 total advising hours provided, and
  • 2,827 attendees at SBDC events.

Meanwhile in Vacaville, the nonprofit:

  • Provided 253 hours of one-on-one advising to 83 clients,
  • Provided 64 training sessions for 1,223 attendees,
  • Helped secure $1,6 million in loans/equity for clients,
  • Aided clients in increasing annual sales by $1.9 million,
  • Assisted three businesses in starting up, and
  • Clients created 35 new jobs.

Partnerships with agencies including the Workforce Development of Solano County have aided in helping small business owners see their dreams become reality, said Solano-Napa SBDC Director Tim Murrill on Wednesday.

Collaborations with the WDB have been numerous, including the Rebuild Solano’s Small Businesses Grant Program, the Restaurant Resiliency Program and Solano Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant.

In Napa, another microbusiness grant is set to launch this summer and an innovative business pitch contest at Napa Valley College will also commence.

As Murrill explained it, the pitch contest will be for high school students, college students and entrepreneurs in the community. It’ll be like a local “Shark Tank,” with a twist.

“It’s giving them education up front and all the things that they need to go into their business plan,” he explained.

So participants will get a taste of business planning before giving their pitch. Win or lose, they’ll know what goes into being a business owner and how to proceed from idea to fruition.

“Owning small businesses, it’s hard work,” Murrill advised, as a former business owner himself. “We have to take all the risks.”

Add to that all the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic — like labor shortages, supply chain stoppages and inflation — and becoming an owner is that much more challenging.

“What we do at SBDC is more important than it’s ever been,” the director pointed out.

Last year, the organization saw about three new clients each week. This year? Boost that to 10.

Workforce Development Board President/Executive Director Heather Henry said the continued collaboration of the two agencies has been impactful.

“We definitely elieve that the hosting of the SBDC by the Workforce Development Board creates a lot of synergy,” she said, adding that the entities just mesh in their mission to help the community.

While the WDB focuses on a client’s talents, she said, the SBDC focuses on services. Together, they help clients move toward success.

“It’s kind of a full-service solution,” Murrill shared.

He also attributes much of the credit to his staff, whom he says makes everything possible, along with their advisory board.

He shared a message for struggling business owners: “When it comes to starting or growing your business, you don’t have to do it alone,” Murrill emphasized. “We’re here. … Reach out. We exist to support the success of small businesses.”

He also imparted a bit of wisdom: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

For more information, visit solanonapasbdc.org.