Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with Byron Hicks, State Director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), via Zoom and filmed the eleventh episode in a video series called Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Hicks has over 30 years of business experience and became the State Director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center in January 2021.
The SBTDC is a business advisory resource for growing and developing businesses. The SBTDC provides services statewide from offices hosted by campuses of The University of North Carolina System. The SBTDC operates in formal partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, making it a unique and valued asset in the economic development infrastructure of North Carolina.
Before becoming the SBTDC State Director in 2021, Hicks has worked with the SBTDC for about 11 years. Before joining the SBTDC, he worked as a banker and owned his own business.
Hicks shared that the SBTDC helps small businesses with confidential one-on-one business services at no cost to business owners. They provide a business launch program and business counseling services. The SBTDC also assists with business plans and plan enhancements as well as access to capital and markets and leadership and management training, among other services.
In 2021, N.C. had a record number of business startups. Hicks shared that the SBTDC offers a program called “Taking the Leap,” which helps get businesses started up in a way that gives them a better chance of success. The tagline of the SBTDC is “Your Business. Better.” The mission of the SBTDC is to positively impact North Carolina’s economy by helping to grow small and mid-sized businesses and launch promising start-ups. This service is something that any N.C. small business can access by requesting business counseling at the SBTDC website. Hicks mentioned that some of the new challenges most reported include hiring and retaining employees and supply chain issues.
Hicks said the SBTDC really focuses on rural communities. He mentioned that 42% of their clients came from rural communities. Hick said there are 11 regional SBTDC service centers around the state. The benefit of the offices being in the region, according to Hicks, is that the people serving those offices know the region and the challenges and opportunities that exist in those communities. The regional center staff work with the local workforce and economic development partners.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our April 14th edition of LEAF Lines.