Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) had its beginnings in 1979 as part of the former Industrial Research and Extension Center. Originally named the Arkansas Small Business Development Center, it has been a separate entity since the mid-1980s, when it was transferred to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where it has become more comprehensive. The center is now a part of UALR’s College of Business in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business and Economic Development. In addition to this central office, ASBTDC has six regional offices, all linked to universities.
The 2003 annual report sets out the center’s mission: to provide quality consulting, training, research, and technology services to the small-business community through partnership among UALR, the Small Business Administration, other institutions of higher education, and additional strategic alliances. The estimated economic impact of the agency in the five years prior to 2003 includes 4,361 jobs created, $492,902,344 in increased sales, $20,568,732 in state tax revenue, $12,315,097 in federal tax revenue, and $228,576 in financing obtained.
The center provides a wide range of services: consulting, training in basic skills and more complex topics, research and information resources, innovation through technology-based services, and a website providing business plans and other information. Some of the services are provided by experts on the staff of the centers. Since all seven centers are located on or near university campuses, faculty members are also available. Finally, the centers may bring in outside experts to teach or provide specific services to client firms.
Small businesses are numerous and to be found everywhere. The official definition of a small business allows the ASBTDC to work with firms which would seem quite large. However, small firms are usually those owned by one or a few people, often related as family and often the only employees of the business. If other employees exist, they are also usually few in number. Output of the firms may range from little more than enough to support the owners to quite large sums.
Since the inception in 1979, the ASBTDC has increased its offerings both because there are more potential client firms and because many more businesses have come to appreciate the services offered. Many changes in the nature of ASBTDC’s offerings are due to changes in the technology used by businesses. Computers and telecommunications have taken on a much larger role in both classes taught and services offered, and on October 27, 2008, the agency’s name was changed to reflect that.
More than 9,000 existing Arkansas businesses and new ventures have received training, consultation, and research services from the center. In 2008, the staff handled 6,898 consulting cases and worked with 1,089 clients. The ASBTDC also responded to 1,765 research requests and held 399 seminars attended by 4,981 people. As of 2011, the agency has a staff of thirty-three full-time employees, supplemented by various graduate students.
The organization launched two electronic bimonthly news bulletins before 2003. BizFacts provides information on government relations and training events. Tech Track focuses on technology news, grant opportunities, and information to Arkansas high-tech firms. In addition, the center partners with the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in a twelve-week intensive training effort for existing and prospective small-business owners. The organization also sponsors Arkansas Entrepreneur Day in thirteen cities.
For additional information:
Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. http://asbtdc.org/ (accessed December 5, 2011).
Barton A. Westerlund and Roger K. Chisholm
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated: 12/05/2011