Campus: CSU Northridge -- June 27, 2003

Feds Name CSUN Administrator of New Small Business Development Network in Southern California

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has selected Cal State Northridge to oversee its small business development centers in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The university's College of Business and Economics will receive $2.9 million annually from the federal government to administer and fund the network of small business development centers in the three-county region.

"The university's selection is a recognition of our successful record of community involvement," CSUN President Jolene Koester said. "Our business college has a long record of working with the community, and in particular in the areas of small business and entrepreneurship. We are proud of what this selection says about our programs. It underscores Northridge's commitment to be involved in the community and to help enhance the region's economy."

The SBA made its announcement yesterday. CSUN will become the new District 3 Regional Lead Center for Business Development Network in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties beginning July 1.

"We at Cal State Northridge are very excited about this opportunity to expand our relationships with the small business development centers and with the federal Small Business Administration. We believe we can jointly provide the needed stimulus for significant economic development in the region," said Michael Fronmueller, dean of CSUN's College of Business and Economics.

The university worked closely with the Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC), which hosts the North Los Angeles Small Business Development Center, the largest and most successful such center in California, to develop the proposal. CSUN received numerous letters of support from public officials, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations throughout the service region.

Fronmueller said he was looking forward to continuing the university's relationship with VEDC and its counterparts throughout the three-county region. They will play key roles in helping CSUN establish the new network in an efficient and timely manner with no disruption of services, he said.

The small business development centers provide small business owners with one-stop access to free business consulting, planning, marketing and training programs. The California Trade, Technology and Commerce Agency, along with the SBA, previously funded the centers, but severed its relationship with them because of the state's budget crisis.

The SBA's Los Angeles District Office ranked first in lending among all 70 SBA offices nationwide in 2002 with 2,964 loans for more than $959 million. It has ranked number one in lending for seven years in a row. The Los Angeles district is first in lending nationally to minority- and women-owned businesses.

By federal law, the centers must be operated by institutions of higher education, either public or private. Applicants for the lead center were reviewed for experience, their ability to establish and operate a network of service centers, oversight controls, financial and administrative capabilities, and plans to work cooperatively with SBA and other community and small business organizations.

"California State University, Northridge is the logical choice for the new regional lead center for the small business development centers," said Bob Holguin, director of the North Los Angeles Small Business Development Center. "Its missions and goals are very much in line with those of the U.S. Small Business Administration and VEDC. The award of this contract to CSUN is collaboration at its best."

Holguin said he was looking forward to working with university officials and faculty members.

"We have worked together on other projects and our missions and goals have a lot of synergy," he said. "As a regional network of small business development centers, we can work closer together to streamline the delivery of services, unify and strengthen the types of services offered, and effectively expand the outreach to businesses throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties."

Fronmueller and CSUN marketing professor Deborah Cours, director of the university's MBA program, will initially serve as co-directors of the new network until a nationwide search is held and a permanent director is selected.

Fronmueller said the SBA's decision is another example of CSUN's strong commitment to supporting the small business community.

"In the community, we've had a very strong relationship with the North Los Angeles Small Business Development Center over the years," he said. "On campus, we have an exceptional small business program, as evidenced by Wells Fargo Bank's recent support for our Wells Fargo Center for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which provides small business owners access to the varied and extensive expertise of our faculty."

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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