SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER
The NMC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was established in 1993 to administer and expand on the services that had been offered by the NMC Business Incubator since 1989. The Business Incubator was created in 1988 through a $250,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to renovate Building T, formerly a maintenance equipment warehouse, so the facility could provide local entrepreneurs with access to affordable space where a new business could be "hatched" and helped to develop until it could eventually stand on its own. The “mixed-use” Incubator was designed to help entrepreneurs learn and/or increase their competence in business skills in an environment that promotes company development.
From this beginning, the SBDC evolved in 1993 to provide more comprehensive services to local small business owners and entrepreneurs that operate businesses outside of the Business Incubator facility. The SBDC was also developed to help combat the alarming increase in the number of small, foreign-owned firms in the CNMI by providing technical assistance to local business people that face a competitive disadvantage due to their lack of basic business skills. Upon its opening in 1993, the SBDC launched the Client Counseling and Workshop and Seminar programs. In 2001, the SBDC additionally created the Women-In-Business program, followed by the Youth Entrepreneurship program in 2004. At its prime, the SBDC had a Director/Business Consultant, three staff Business Consultants with their MBAs, and an Office Manager.
Unfortunately, due to substantial budget cuts since 2006, the program has had to suspend most of its programs and merge with the Business Department in Building V. As a result of leaving Building T in 2006 so the School of Education could move in, the Business Incubator program was discontinued. The SBDC also had to suspend the Women-In-Business and Youth Entrepreneurship programs as the funding for the three staff business consultants and office manager positions were suspended. As of 2008, the SBDC Director is the only remaining staff member, and he also serves as the Department Chair for the Business Department.
To foster the economic goals of the Commonwealth, the SBDC continues to provide free business consulting services, on a limited basis, and no-cost or low-cost workshops/seminars and training programs aimed at strengthening and diversifying the local economy. By encouraging and supporting new business formation, the SBDC continues to help create new, private sector jobs for local people. It is the hope of NMC that funding will be restored to the SBDC at previous levels once CNMI government and NMC budgetary resources improve.