The state director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center unveiled a new name for Henderson State University’s small business development program Thursday in the Garrison Center Banquet Room. Henderson’s program, in keeping up with the state’s, changed its name to HSU Small Business and Technology Development Center.

The state director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center unveiled a new name for Henderson State University’s small business development program Thursday in the Garrison Center Banquet Room. Henderson’s program, in keeping up with the state’s, changed its name to HSU Small Business and Technology Development Center.

Though adding “Technology” only brought a slight change to the name, those within the program say the change will underscore its commitment to helping entrepreneurs pursue new ideas and will help many small businesses apply technology to their current operations.

Henderson President Charles Welch, School of Business Dean Margaret Hoskins and State Rep. Percy Malone joined Lonnie Jackson, center director, and Janet Roderick, ASBTDC state director, in announcing the change.

Welch said that “it is important for our institution to play a significant role in the growth of our community.” He said the university is currently working with four community colleges to promote the growth of the program, as well as the community.

Jackson, who has been the director for eight years, then introduced speakers and acknowledged community leaders and entrepreneurs in attendance. Next to speak was Roderick.

“Changing our name illustrates an extension of our mission to serve Arkansas’ entrepreneurial community,” Roderick said. “We began a decade ago to develop services for innovation and technology-based businesses when it became apparent that a key to economic growth in Arkansas would be our own innovation. Arkansas must be on the leading edge of technology to compete with other states and internationally in this economy.”

She said that for years the program has helped small businesses in setting up and expanding and has helped create 5,000 jobs in Arkansas and retain an additional 3,300 jobs in the state.

“Small businesses are no small thing,” she said. With the economy and technology changing constantly, Arkansas “must keep up” with the changing demands, she said.

“I’ve said ASBDC for so long, it’s going to be difficult to add the ‘T’,” Hoskins said. She said the program is a “natural partnership” between schools and businesses, and that Henderson’s program has been successful under Jackson. She said since he has been director, he has organized at least 200 training events that have helped about 3,000 people in gaining knowledge about being entrepreneurs. The program has also provided dozens of Henderson students the opportunity to work with small business owners for advice on how to survive financially. The students get to “work with real people, real businesses and real problems,” she said.

Malone took the floor next, joking that the government is “pretty good” at (creating new) acronyms. On a serious note, he said that Henderson’s ASBTDC is one of the school’s “best kept secrets,” but that “we’ve got to do a better job to let people know what they do and what services they offer.” He said he hopes the program will encourage students to set up businesses rather than simply joining the work force.

“There are things out there other than going to work for someone else,” he said. Malone is an entrepreneur, employing more than 300 people in the state.

Jackson closed by saying that he is not the one responsible for the program’s success. “We’re successful because of the people we serve.” Henderson’s program serves 10 counties in the state, from Polk and Sevier counties to Grant and Dallas counties.

Henderson’s program, as well as the state’s other five regional centers and the lead center in Little Rock, councils small businesses on marketing and financial decisions, feasibility studies, strategic planning, business and financial planning, technology and innovation and starting a business. While the program does not lend money, Jackson said the staff will help potential entrepreneurs prepare to apply for a loan.

The ASBTDC is the state’s largest business assistance program. The program earned special technology accreditation from the national association of small business development centers last year. Some of the Henderson program’s recent clients include Knit Unto Others, Quapaw Baths, Minute Express, Iron Mountain Lodge and Marina and Championship Sports Marketing, Inc.
ASBTDC assists innovation-based businesses through its network of offices across the state. Established in 1980, the program is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business.

For more information about the ASBTDC, contact Jackson at 230-5184.