A job posted on the University of Rhode Island website pays $57,000 to $122,000 and among the functions is “to work with key stakeholders in the political, governmental, business and academic communities to support the needs of new and existing small businesses.”
Finding that pivotal person – the executive director of the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center – is the defining element for kicking the new, restructured center into motion.
The SBDC has been in transition since Johnson & Wales University ended its eight-year stewardship of the center at the end of 2013 and the University of Rhode Island, awarded the host position by the U.S. Small Business Administration, officially took over on Jan. 2.
The restructuring is going to take some time.
“We want to be open by spring,” said SBDC interim state Director Jim Petell, who is URI’s associate vice president for intellectual property and economic development.
Right now, the wheels are turning on preparations that require state approval for job descriptions and job postings and on discussions regarding potential locations for regional SBDC offices.
Meanwhile, small businesses that were in the course of receiving SBDC assistance on a wide range of business-development issues, from marketing to finances, have been referred to partner agencies – the Rhode Island District Office of the SBA, SCORE and the Center for Women & Enterprise.
Those referrals are in addition to the assistance the Center for Women & Enterprise regularly provides to entrepreneurs.
The transitional process has been that clients who call the SDBC phone number – that’s been about 75 since Jan. 2, said Petell – get a return phone call from former SBDC state Director Adriana Dawson, who has been working part time as a consultant during the transition.
Depending upon their level of business development and expertise required, the entrepreneurs are referred to one of the partner agencies.
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