EKU SBDC Retains Statewide "Traveling Trophy" for Productivity, Performance

photo of John Preston and Michael Rodriguez with trophy

The traveling trophy won’t be traveling, after all.

For the second consecutive year, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Eastern Kentucky University claimed the state hardware for its performance and productivity.

The EKU SBDC, which met all 13 numerical goals set by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, counseled 248 clients across a 15-county area and assisted in the launch of 28 new businesses from Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30 of this year. The EKU SBDC also helped its clients obtain 23 loans totaling approximately $3.1 million. Both Center Director Michael Rodriguez and Somerset-based general management consultant John Preston were named to the Million Dollar Loan Club – the fourth consecutive year for Rodriguez and third for Preston.

“Michael is an outstanding director who has worked hard to meet all the demands of the area,” said Becky Naugle, state director for the SBDC. “He has been a business owner himself and can relate well to his clients. He and John both work hard … at customer service.”

The EKU SBDC, an outreach service of EKU’s College of Business and Technology, is housed within the university’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) with offices on the Richmond campus and in Somerset. It provides free counseling, training and information programs and services to existing and potential small business owners in the following counties: Adair, Casey, Clinton, Estill, Garrard, Jackson, Laurel, Lincoln, Madison, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne and Whitley.

Much of the SBDC’s work centers on helping clients with licensing, financing, and developing business plans, Rodriguez said. Other times, Rodriguez and Preston serve simply as a “sounding board,” especially with start-ups.

Training sessions throughout the service region focus on frequently expressed client needs such as web site development, using social media, and setting up QuickBooks.

Richmond clients include D & M Contracting, which earned the Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year Award; Jackson’s Restaurant; Medical Career and Technical College; Dazzling Dogs Pet Spa; and Olive You Boutique; among many others.

Rodriguez brings more than 13 years of experience in consulting, health care management and as a restaurant franchise owner/operator. Preston joined the EKU SBDC in 1999 after logging almost three decades of experience in business, mostly in banking, mortgage and consumer lending and personnel management. He also operated his own insurance firm.

In 2011, Preston received the 2011 Kentucky State Star award from the Association of Small Business Development Centers as the Bluegrass State’s top consultant.

Another plus for EKU’s SBDC is its physical location in EKU’s Business and Technology Center alongside the Eastern Region Innovation and Commercialization Center, which includes a business accelerator (incubator), and Entrepreneur Services. The EKU SBDC also benefits from a close relationship with EKUBusiness academic programs, all housed in the building. In fact, the SBDC received the 2011 Extraordinary Achievement by a Center Award, in part for its efforts to integrate clients into classroom projects. This fall six SBDC clients are working with EKU marketing classes. A new collaborator since Spring 2012 is EKU’s Department of Psychology.          

To learn more about services offered by the EKU SBDC, visit www.ekubiz.com or www.facebook.com/ekusbdc, or call 859-622-1384 (Richmond) or 606-678-3042 (Somerset).

Published on November 27, 2012