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Tennessee Small Business Development Center Is Fueling the State’s Economy

The TSBDC helps small businesses succeed.

By Bill Lewis on June 21, 2022

Rutherford County Chamber of CommerceRutherford County Chamber of Commerce
Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce

Ensuring small businesses have the resources they need to be successful is a high priority in the region and state, as these companies play a large role in keeping the economy running as smoothly as possible. Many businesses in Middle Tennessee have greatly benefited from the resources that the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) provides.

Misael Tovar, chief financial officer of Duggin Construction in Christiana, for example, turned to the TSBDC at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to help the company tap its potential for growth.

“They definitely helped build a strong foundation,” Tovar says.

Duggin Construction, which develops infrastructure in new subdivisions, was impacted by the decline in the housing market in the early 2000s. At the advice of TSBDC experts, the company implemented new practices that not only led to a recovery but also rapid expansion. Revenues and profitability skyrocketed, and the workforce grew dramatically as a result of the TSBDC’s assistance, which is available at no cost.

Cat Curtis Murphy
Kirk Borne speaks on “You and the Environment and Data Literacy” at MTSU.

Long-Term Relationships

TSBDC experts assisted the company with financial management, employee development, marketing and other aspects of operating a successful business. The relationship, which began a decade ago while Tovar was completing his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at MTSU, continues today.

“We learned everything from the ground up,” he says. “As we grow, we stay in contact with them to make sure we grow in the right way.”

The TSBDC’s services are provided by a network of 20 offices located throughout Tennessee.

“Small businesses are an influential piece of our local economy,” says Stacey Tadlock, operations manager for the TSBDC office at MTSU. “Our small businesses contribute to economic growth, bring forth a feeling of community and culture, and create valuable jobs for our community.”

MTSU’s TSBDC served 535 entrepreneurs and small-business owners in 2021 and launched 20 new Middle Tennessee businesses, while TSBDC offices across the state served a combined 6,475 entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“We work with both existing (businesses) and startups; we have a healthy mix of both,” Tadlock says. “The TSBDC is here for the life of the business. We are here to help an entrepreneur launch, but we also want to be involved in the long haul.”

Kelly Knowles became familiar with the TSBDC while studying at MTSU. In 2019, she launched her business, Kelly K. Consulting, where she coaches individuals and companies. “People are interested in increasing self-awareness and improving their interpersonal skills,” she says.

The TSBDC’s advice was invaluable, “more than anything having an opportunity to talk with a neutral party who understands and can clarify and offer resources,” Knowles says.

“Our small businesses contribute to economic growth, bring forth a feeling of community and culture and create valuable jobs for our community.”

Stacey Tadlock


Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Tennessee’s economy will also benefit from a new generation of entrepreneurs studying at MTSU. “We have a business innovation and entrepreneurship major with 152 students.

We also have an entrepreneurship minor with approximately 250 students from all across campus,” says Joshua R. Aaron, an MTSU professor who holds the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship and is MBA committee chair in the Department of Management at MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

There was a 39% leap in the number of students majoring in entrepreneurship in just one year from 2020 to 2021.

Tennessee Small Business Development Center
Tennessee Small Business Development Center serves local professionals.

Small businesses account for nearly two-thirds of job growth in the United States. And 9 out of every 10 businesses are small businesses, says Murat Arik, who holds the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning at MTSU’s Jones College of Business. He is director of the university’s Business & Economic Research Center and associate professor of management.

“They are at the forefront of innovation and new business formation,” Arik says.

David J. Urban, dean of the Jones College of Business, also adds that Tennessee is a great place for businesses to start and grow a business, touching on the positive impact of the TSBDC.

“The Tennessee Small Business Development Center provides rocket fuel to propel prospective entrepreneurs and family-business owners to new heights of commercial success,” Urban says. “TSBDC and its service centers set an enviable standard for capital formation and job creation for other states to emulate.”

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