December 1, 2023

SBDC Day Annual Celebration Features State Leaders

Deb Foley of Taste Oil Vinegar Spice speaks with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger during Wednesday’s recognition of Small Business Development Center Day at the University of Mary Washington.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger visited the University of Mary Washington’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Eagle Village on the Fredericksburg Campus on Wednesday, March 15 – SBDC Day!

The annual celebration commemorates the impact America’s small business development centers have on the success of small businesses.

Spanberger was joined by U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Guzman and Virginia SBDC State Director Jody Keenan, along with several Fredericksburg-area small business owners, who met at UMW’s Eagle Village SBDC, where their enterprises first began to take root.

UMW SBDC Executive Director Brian Baker and Director Susan Ball attended, as did Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Director Bill Freehling.

The discussion centered around the successes and challenges faced by the businesses since they were launched and the notion that help is still available.

Adrian Silversmith from Sprelly talks with UMW Small Business Development Center's Susan Ball during yesterday's SBDC Day event.

Adrian Silversmith from Sprelly talks with UMW Small Business Development Center’s Susan Ball during yesterday’s SBDC Day event.

Area small business owners who attended yesterday’s event included:

  • James Fallon, Cork & Table
  • Latasha Brooks, Coach Brooks Business Consulting
  • Adrian and Casey Silversmith, Sprelly
  • Dina Evans, Human Resources Director for Obsidian Solutions Group
  • Beth Black and Joy Crump, Foode and Mercantile
  • Valerie Gartrell, Selfie Social
  • Deb Foley, Taste Oil Vinegar Spice
  • Crystal Wellman, Sugar & Spruce
  • Brian Lam, Collage Spa
  • Rita Allan, City Vino
  • Paul Wood, Rush Hour Live Escape Room
  • Ernisha Hall, Virginia Black Business Directory
  • Ed Wright, Abner Butterfield Ice Cream Co.
  • Carolyn Gipson, Jus Pop’n
yesterday's SBDC Day event, including U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, pose for a group photo.

Participants in yesterday’s SBDC Day event, including U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, pose for a group photo.

Baker Interviewed about Center for Economic Development in The Free Lance-Star

As head of UMW's Small Business Development Center, Brian Baker helps entrepreneurs bring their businesses to fruition and contributes to the economic wellbeing of the Fredericksburg region. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

As head of UMW’s Small Business Development Center, Brian Baker helps entrepreneurs bring their businesses to fruition and contributes to the economic wellbeing of the Fredericksburg region. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Brian Baker, executive director of UMW’s Center for Economic Development and Small Business Development Center, was interviewed for an article in The Free Lance-Star on how he and his team are helping local businesses navigate the pandemic.

The University of Mary Washington Center for Economic Development has taken the pulse of area businesses suffering from the impact of COVID-19 and pivoted to provide help.

It’s creating free, 30-minute online classes and brief podcasts on topics that are causing owners the most pain at a time when many are having to shut their doors, and providing consultation online in keeping with new social distancing requirements.

“We haven’t had this kind of challenge since [Hurricane] Isabel, and all the processes have changed,” said Brian Baker, the center’s executive director for economic development.

He said his office, which includes the UMW Small Business Center, has been getting four times as many calls as normal. He and his staff decided to survey businesses in Planning Districts 16, 17 and 18 to see how prepared they were and what problems they were facing. Read more.



Baker Earns Prince B. Woodard Leadership Award

Brian Baker, UMW Center for Economic Development

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce honored local businesses and business leaders at its 29th Annual Awards & Gala on Friday, which was held at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center. Brian Baker, executive director of UMW’s Center for Economic Development, received the Prince B. Woodard Leadership Award, honoring an individual who has provided a lifetime of service and commitment to the Fredericksburg region.

Baker has led Mary Washington’s Small Business Development Center since 2002. During that time, he and his team have engaged 4,000 small business clients with a capital formation, or net capital accumulation, of $102.6 million. He’s been responsible for more than 1,000 training events and he has helped start over 550 small businesses, which have created or retained over 7,900 jobs.

Baker has also been active in the community serving on various boards and committees, including those of the Rappahannock Economic Development Corporation, Fredericksburg VA Main Street, Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce. In his spare time, he founded the Typhoon Elite Field Hockey Club in 2006. Read more.

UMW Center for Economic Development Client Wins Award

UMW’s Center for Economic Development announced that one of its clients has earned a prestigious award for a small business. Amruta Inc., a Fredericksburg data analytics company led by Beju Rao, has received a Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund award for $50,000.

The state’s news release described the project that earned the company the award as a “Self-learning system for e-discovery, among large text corpus data sets to improve compliance, forensics and customer service, using machine learning.”

The CRCF program helps promote technological and economic advancement in Virginia by investing in the research, development and commercialization of technologies at early stages in the process, when funding is a key component to success. “The program rewards innovation efforts in a tangible way, and recognizes the incredible promise of these transformative projects that have real potential to generate significant economic and social benefits for the Commonwealth,” said Ed Albrigo, president and CEO at the Center for Innovative Technology.

Brian Baker, executive director for UMW’s Center for Economic Development applauded Amruta Inc., noting that these awards are typically reserved for Research I-designated universities. 

Read more. 


Center for Economic Development Launches Business Reference Guide

The University’s Center for Economic Development Business Reference Guide is available for Small Businesses in Virginia to utilize for quick and reliable information.

Since 2006, the Center for Economic Development has compiled the Business Reference Guide as a business intelligence tool for Virginia small companies. Each year more information is added and validated to create what the guide has become today.

Some major topics included in the guide are: Business Data and Statistics, E-commerce and Retail, Main Street Resources, and Local Impact for a Small Business.

“Business Intelligence is an advantage for entrepreneurs and business owners,” says Brian Baker, the Executive Director of the Center for Economic Development. “The 13th Annual Business Reference Guide is designed to help them find answers and save time from a comprehensive source.”

The UMW Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a program at the Center for Economic Development, uses the resource guide to help small business clients. The SBDC provides assistance to the small business community through management training, industrial and demographic research, and confidential one-on-one consulting with a focus on capital access and management planning.

“I always include the business reference guide as a resource to our new business owners,” says Angela Kelley, Early Venture Specialist of the Small Business Development Center. “It provides them with valuable resources to help them start and grow their business.”

To view the 2018 Business Reference Guide, please click here.


MBA Students Create New Plan for Stafford Airport

An MBA student group, in concert with the UMW Center for Economic Development (CED), has worked on a project for the Stafford Regional Airport (SRA).

The group of COB/MBA students, working with Associate Professor of Management & Marketing Louis Martinett and CED Executive Director Brian Baker as well as alumni mentor Micah Dalton, produced a written strategic marketing plan for SRA. The outcome of the planning process was a plan that described a clear strategy for growth for SRA. The strategic marketing planning process included hands-on work with the Stafford Airport Authority, preparation, and follow-up evaluations along with a clear strategic plan of implementation.

Through the process, the student team and the Airport Authority worked together on a review of the current business model, revising the mission and vision, answered key questions for expanding the scope of business, and identified opportunities and defined ideas for expanding the business footprint of SRA.  The student team included Omar Awan, Megan Holder, Steven Ping, Max Watson, Kaitlynn Wickersham.

Dave Ellis, vice chairman of the SRA Authority and a 25-year Air Force veteran with nine years in a senior civilian role at Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon said: “During those years, I’ve been through numerous planning exercises and the project led by these UMW grad students has the been the best by far. Each meeting was professionally run and we accomplished specific activities and achieved desired outcomes to produce an exceptional Strategic Plan. The plan will re-focus our collective efforts into a cohesive approach, allowing the SRA to deliver outstanding experiences to our customers, business partners and the community.”

Baker Presents at VBIA Summit

Brian Baker, Executive Director for Economic Development, presented on “Lessons Learned in Business Incubation” at the Virginia Business Incubation Association Summit, Beyond the Silicon Dominion, The Future of Virginia Entrepreneurship. Themes from the presentation included Virtual Enterprise, Global Decoupling, and the Importance of the Maker Movement on the Future of Innovation.

Baker Speaks at Northern Neck Quarterly Meeting

Brian Baker, Executive Director for Economic Development, spoke in Reedville, Va., on the topic of entrepreneurship at the quarterly meeting of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission, Chesapeake Bay Region Partnership and the Northern Neck Tourism Commission. The UMW Center for Economic Development will launch a new entrepreneur program this fall. It will address ideation, commercialization, business modeling, business planning and pitch preparation. The three-month program is designed to nurture entrepreneurs in the facets of business formation. The program will have three tracks to support pre-college, college and post-college entrepreneurs.

Center for Economic Development Releases 2016 Business Guide

The University of Mary Washington Center for Economic Development Business Reference Guide was first compiled in 2006 as a business intelligence tool for small companies in Virginia. Since inception it has more than doubled in size and has become a staple for business clients and professionals both locally and statewide. The Guide systematizes internet resources in a hierarchical taxonomy for quick access. Users will find three new business categories in the 2016 edition that include resources for veterans, rural communities and international engagement business themes.

The Business Reference Guide is a living document that is updated annually and provides representatives from business, education and government with quick access to information. Users are invited to submit new resources and categories that support the health and vitality of Virginia businesses.

The University of Mary Washington Center for Economic Development collaborates with business, government, education, and private parties to promote personal, professional and economic growth by advancing knowledge through entrepreneurship, small business development, innovation and competitiveness, research and analysis, and outreach and engagement.


Spring Newsletter from the Center for Economic Development

The spring newsletter from the UMW Center for Economic Development is available. Enjoy updates on state, regional, and local partnerships, people, and interesting projects.