Today, December 17, 2014 is the 18th anniversary of the Alexandria SBDC. The photo accompanying this blogpost shows the ribbon cutting on the same day in 1996; you will probably recognize many of those in attendance. A few weeks ago the Alexandria SBDC held its first annual Holiday Kickoff celebration to highlight the accomplishments of 2014 and to preview what is planned for the New Year. Many of those at the original ribbon-cutting were in attendance. The primary purpose, of course, was to celebrate the many small businesses who make Alexandria such a wonderful place to live and to work.
Along with many small business owners, current and former clients, and friends, were elected officials and City Staff from such departments as the Permit Center, Planning & Zoning, Code Administration, Transportation & Environmental Services and Finance. These officials interact directly with small business owners and work cooperatively with SBDC staff to help solve small business problems. We also welcomed our Partners in Economic Development, the staff of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP), the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association (ACVA), the Chamber, and the grass roots economic development groups, the local business associations.
The holiday kickoff event was also an opportunity for business owners to mingle with many of the bankers who have worked with the Alexandria SBDC to facilitate over $64 million in small business loans since the Center’s beginning. Attendees included many of the attorneys, accountants, insurance providers, web designers and others who are great referral partners for the SBDC. Past and future workshop presenters were also in the crowd; the SBDC has greatly increased the number and quality of educational programs that it presents. New in the last few years are one-on-one counseling “clinics” that focus on such areas as social media and human resources.
These offerings will be expanded in the New Year to include succinct but timely advice from experts in nonprofit, government contracting, Health Department, marketing and IT, as well as several others that are in the works. More information on these opportunities will be available in the New Year. Finally, the holiday event was the chance to celebrate the Alexandria SBDC’s new website and to thank the SBDC staff and consultants, and City funding, that made it happen.
The Alexandria SBDC has expanded its reach and depth in the past 18 years, and we have enjoyed watching both our organization and the small businesses we have served grow and prosper. We wish all of our clients, partners and supporters a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
The Alexandria SBDC will be taking a break from its blog and will resume after the first of the year.