December 6, 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.

UMW Gives Student’s Bookmobile Project a Lift

Hollis Cobb’s days growing up were bookended. He read each morning before school and snuggled in for family story time before bed. “I can appreciate how important it was that we had access to books and parents who had time to read to us,” said Cobb, now a junior English major at the University of […]

Paige Shiplett: Business as Usual

Local small businesses thrive thanks to countless tourists and residents who enjoy Fredericksburg’s charm and hospitality. But when COVID-19 came to town, many downtown shops were forced to shutter their storefronts and endure a decline in sales.

Paige Shiplett, finance and marketing coordinator for UMW's Center for Economic Development. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Paige Shiplett, finance and marketing coordinator for UMW’s Center for Economic Development. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Enter the UMW Center for Economic Development (CED) which swiftly switched its popular seminars to free webinars by speakers who donated their time and expertise. A slew of regional entrepreneurs who participated in two virtual series – overcoming business challenges and best practices for going online – said they were thrilled to have their needs addressed.

“Some were unaware of our resources before the crisis, and told us they are so grateful to have found us,” Paige Shiplett said. As finance and marketing coordinator for the CED, which houses the Small Business Development Center and a host of programs, she helped publicize these timely events.

Hailing from Cincinnati, Shiplett majored in marketing at Kent State University. Just a few years later, she’d find herself in the market for a new job. “When I moved here, I fell in love with Fredericksburg and Mary Washington,” said Shiplett, who vowed to work at UMW one day.

She soon got her chance. For the past two years, she’s put her degree to good use, managing the Center’s website, purchasing, and budget and reconciliation reports, and promoting innovative events and programs like StartUpUMW, which will be offered both virtually and in-person this fall.

“Real world learning and extracurricular activities are so important,” she said, “and even students doing the program online can learn about entrepreneurship or begin the steps to launch their business.”

Serving as her office’s point of contact during the pandemic, Shiplett often gets calls from local business owners who want to know how they can stay afloat. The Center is here to help, she tells them, whether it’s scheduling an online appointment with a consultant or walking them through applying for a loan.

In other words, she said, in these unusual times, it’s still business as usual.


Q: What’s a typical day like for you working at home?
A: I often get calls from small business owners sharing their hardships, especially when the quarantine first started. I began playing upbeat music as I worked to keep my mind at ease.

Q: What do you miss most about being at UMW?
A: Getting exercise by walking across campus, seeing familiar faces and updates to renovated buildings, and chatting with Mary Bullock in the cashier’s office as she writes my deposit.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I love wearing multiple hats, which means I’m never bored.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Right now, working remotely is hard because I am a people person. I miss interactions with clients and co-workers, so sometimes it can be hard stay my “cheerful self.” Cue upbeat music again!

Q: What are you doing in your free time?
A: I’ve refurbished my nightstands and taught my dog a new trick, and I’m now learning Adobe Illustrator.

Q: What would surprise people to learn about you?
A: One of my goals in 2018 was to write more letters, so I began writing to my grandma. The first time, she texted me back instead, but we ended up writing to each other for a year.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” – The Office, Season 9, Episode 23.

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.



UMW Featured in “Best Places for Job Seekers” Ranking

The University of Mary Washington is featured in NerdScholar’s 2013 list of “Best Places in Virginia for Job Seekers.” NS-Fall-2-1The financial literacy and consumer advocacy website named Fredericksburg number seven in the study, based on population growth, median household income and unemployment rate. “The University of Mary Washington focuses on developing the region’s economy with a Small Business Development Center to help local businesses grow and prosper and an UMW Entrepreneurs Club to encourage students to start and grow businesses,” said NerdScholar author Annie Wang. Fredericksburg had a 15.1 percent population change from 2009 to 2011, the median household income in 2011 was $44,498 and the 2013 unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, according to the study. Mary Washington Healthcare, the University of Mary Washington and the Fredericksburg City Government were named as the top employers for the area. Check out the full list: Best Places in Virginia for Job Seekers.

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.

Susan Ball Completes Certification Series

The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center’s Early Venture Specialist, Susan Ball, recently completed the SBDCGlobal Consultant Certification Series.  This program prepares SBDC consultants to assist clients with international trade activities.  SBDCGlobal is a powerful online trade platform that will link clients of the U.S., Mexican and Columbian Small Business Development Center networks for international trade opportunities.

Eagle StartUp Finalists

The UMW Entrepreneurs Club, EagleWorks, and the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center joined together to encourage startups among members of the University of Mary Washington student community in a program called the Eagle Startup Challenge. The finalists are Anthony Seippel, Patrick Byrne and Chrophe Perdu (team), Seamus Hooban and Andy Leonard (team), and Daniel Shapiro. They will give pitch-style presentations and announce the winners on April 24, 2013.

The UMW Entrepreneurs Club is a partnership with the University of Mary Washington Office of Entrepreneurship and Business Development in suite 400 in the Eagle Village Executive Offices.Visit the web page at  for the latest updates.

UMW-SBDC Helps Veterans with their Business Ambitions


Susan Ball, the early venture specialist for the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMWSBDC), provides Boots to Business training for transitioning members of the Marines at the Quantico Marine Corps Base.  Boots to Business is a program instituted by the SBA to provide an overview of business ownership to service members.  Those preparing to transition out of the service are eligible to attend a Boots to Business workshop and learn more about the steps to take to determine whether entrepreneurship is a good option for them. For more information, contact the UMW-SBDC at 540-654-1383 or email .