June 13, 2024

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 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.



EagleWorks Gives Small Business Opportunity to Shine

The University of Mary Washington’s Center for Economic Development is taking steps to help small businesses in Fredericksburg succeed. Its small-business incubation program, EagleWorks, took its first client in 2014. Koji Flowers, owner of online marketing company Big Cloud Media, came to EagleWorks after moving from Texas. In the nine months Flowers has worked at EagleWorks, Big Cloud Media has tripled sales and doubled the average scope of project services. In addition, the company has clients in Mexico, Canada, India and Israel. EagleWorks is a collaborative entrepreneur-centered program through the Center for Economic Development that focuses on small businesses to promote their growth and sustainability. Currently, EagleWorks has 13 partners that support clients in the program, including the U.S. Small Business Administration and Cardinal Bank. EagleWorks provides services for small business owners, including office space, a conference room for client use, and business training programs. Flowers credits EagleWorks as a large proponent to Big Cloud Media’s success. Flowers, who had operated Big Cloud Media from his home for several years before coming to EagleWorks, was looking for a place where he could separate work from home. EagleWorks, in addition to providing an area solely for business, also gives Flowers a venue where he can meet with potential clients. The Executive Director of Economic Development Brian Baker and others in the department have been especially valuable to Flowers. They helped Flowers create Limited Liability Company status for his business. In addition, they helped improve his business in ways Flowers had never considered. “It’s been a wonderful program for me,” Flowers said.

Veteran-Owned Small Business Showcase

The University of Mary Washington hosted the Veteran Owned Small Business Showcase at the Stafford campus May 14.

During the event, veteran small business owners came together to showcase their offerings to a variety of businesses in the private and public sector.

President Richard Hurley also announced the Veterans Endowment, a fund that will support the advancement of veterans and their families through education at UMW.

“This fund will benefit honorably discharged service men and women, active duty service men and women and their immediate families,” said Hurley.

The event and the endowment were made possible by the Veteran Owned Business Executive Roundtable. The Veteran Owned Business Executive Roundtable is a program of the UMW Center for Economic Development established in July 2013 to support personal, professional and business growth for regional veteran owned small business executives.


UMW Spearheads Regional Economic Plan for Growth

The Fredericksburg area will be a buzzing hub of commerce where opportunities abound for people and businesses to thrive. This vision for the region was unveiled at the Transformation 20/20 Regional Economic Development Summit held Oct. 29 at the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford Campus. UMW President Richard V. Hurley The summit convened business leaders, economic development directors and local government administrators throughout the region to engage in the process of crafting a realistic and sustainable blueprint for economic growth. The ongoing process, which is spearheaded by UMW, has involved more than 200 community and business leaders over the past year. “The Fredericksburg region is well-positioned for future growth,” said keynote speaker Christine Chmura, president of Chmura Economics and Analytics, which recently completed an industry cluster analysis for the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance. The region, Planning District 16, includes Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George and Caroline. Chmura noted that the region’s growth rate of 2.4 percent puts it far above the national average of slightly less than one percent and makes it one of the fastest growing areas of the country. Her study identified six “priority” clusters that are anticipated to experience the most growth and on which regional leaders should focus attention: business services; finance, insurance and real estate; health and life sciences; information and communications, manufacturing, and public administration. Summit speakers pointed out that the region’s infrastructure, transportation, land usage, job training and other components have not kept pace with such rapid growth. Those are areas that will require concerted efforts and regional collaboration. Other goals identified at the summit include:
  • Encourage business development, especially entrepreneurial growth
  • Become a tourist destination
  • Promote training and education for current and future jobs
  • Build economic resilience
  • Create a regional lance use plan
Also revealed at the summit were the results of a study conducted by Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Next Generation of Business Leaders. In their survey of about 200 local young professionals between the ages of 21 and 40, more than half indicated they plan to stay in the area for a decade or longer. They like the slower-paced lifestyle of Fredericksburg and believe it’s a great place to raise a family. UMW President Richard V. Hurley chairs the regional economic development leadership group, along with Fred Rankin, President and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare. Hurley said he stepped up to the plate because he sees public service as a role of a university. While many attempts have been made over the years to have all the localities face regional economic issues collaboratively, he sees the current initiative as having staying power. “The University is neutral,” he said. “If anybody could undertake this effort without suspicion, it would be us.” Rankin added, “We’ve achieved some amount of success. Now we need to take collaboration to the next step . . . We will not be successful unless we find a way to come together in regional collaboration.”

Baker Named VBIA President

Baker_Brian_2011Brian Baker, executive director of the University of Mary Washington Center for Economic Development, was elected president of the Virginia Business Incubation Association (VBIA) at the July 10 Board of Director’s meeting.  In that role he will work with the board to improve member engagement and value.

VBIA enters its 14th year as an education and networking association for professionals who support entrepreneurship, small business development, and the advancement of incubation throughout the Commonwealth.  The UMW Center for Economic Development enters its second year of serving as the headquarters for the association.

VBIA hosts an annual conference, regional roundtable workshops, a monthly newsletter, and a wealth of web-based publications in the members-only library. Membership is made up of individuals, educators and students, city and county executives, local and regional economic developers, chamber of commerce officials, public and private business assistance providers.


UMW Names Executive Director for Center for Economic Development

The University of Mary Washington today announced that Brian Baker has been named executive director of the Center for Economic Development. Baker has spent the last decade as an administrator at UMW, most recently as executive director for entrepreneurship. In his role as executive director, Baker will oversee the UMW Small Business Development Center, the EagleWorks Accelerator and Business Innovation Center, the Engagement Program, the operations for the Virginia Business Incubation Association, as well as several contract affiliations. During his more than 10 years at UMW, Baker has served in various roles, including head of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  In his time as executive director of the SBDC, the center served more than 3,000 small company clients and yielded economic impacts of more than $70 million in new investments, more than $81 million in new sales growth and the creation and retention of 4,670 jobs. Baker also was instrumental in bringing the Virginia Business Incubation Association to the university where it will have an opportunity to engage students and faculty in both regional and statewide small company development initiatives. Baker also has collaborated with numerous UMW students on business-related projects pertaining to market research, small company analysis and revenue analytics. Baker serves on the Board of Directors for the La Ceiba Microfinance program, the Leadership Fredericksburg program and the University Based Economic Development Council, and is president of the Virginia Business Incubation Association. He also is a general member of the Rappahannock Economic Development Corporation and a member of the Stafford County Economic Analysis Forum and the Germanna Community College Workforce and Community Education Advisory Board. He has been a speaker at both the International Economic Development Council and Virginia Business Incubation Association conferences on small business. In 2010, he was recognized as the Virginia SBDC State Star for contributions in business development. Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in business administration in management from Mary Washington. He holds a business analyst certification from the Virginia SBDC program hosted by George Mason University. The Center for Economic Development, established in 2011, assists the regional jurisdictions in their efforts to promote economic development of the region. The center functions as a central point of contact to connect faculty and students with regional initiatives and businesses seeking their assistance. The center’s programs and initiatives include the Small Business Development Center, the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, the Virginia Business Incubation Association, and student and faculty engagement projects.

UMW Honors Local Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

The University of Mary Washington’s Center for Economic Development recognized area small business owners and entrepreneurs through the 2013 Virginia Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year Awards and the Meta R. Braymer Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Brian Baker, executive director for entrepreneurship, presented the awards during an open house celebration on May 29. Award recipients were selected from applicants of business owners served by the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center on the basis of commitment to their enterprise, industry leadership, proven business success and dedication to the community. Joy Crump and Beth Black, co-owners of the Fredericksburg restaurant FOODE, received the inaugural Meta R. Braymer Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for their involvement in the small business community. The award is named after Meta R. Braymer, vice president for economic development and regional engagement, who will retire next month after 23 years at UMW. Thomas Keogh, owner of Corp Solutions LLC, and Christopher Sharon, owner of Adaptive Training and Consulting Services LLC, received the Virginia Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year Awards. The awards are a tribute to their commitment to business development and to the community where they reside and serve. Keogh also won the state-level award of the same name given by the Virginia Small Business Development Center. During the awards ceremony, the Center for Economic Development also recognized 11 professional service providers with Volunteer Champion Awards for their service to the UMW Small Business Development Center. The award recipients included Richard Roanelli and Tom Miglas of the Mason Enterprise Center for a procurement technical assistance program; Will Vehrs of the Virginia Department of Business Assistance for state procurement; Heather Rosen of FranNet for franchise compatibility and selection; Lisa Pecunia of Avarra Solutions for digital media marketing; Don Bowler of Zebrareach for traditional media marketing; Teri Tosti of Sonbank for the Small Business Administration Guarantee Programs; Jamie Scully of Cushman and Wakefield-Thalhimer for  commercial  real estate; Debby Girvan of Flair Communications for digital media marketing; Geary Rodgers of Compton and Duling for business legal matters; and Micah Dalton from North Highland Consulting for providing experiential learning opportunities to UMW Master of Business Administration students. Each of the award recipients demonstrated passion and commitment, leadership, proven business success through sustainability and growth and dedication to the community.