The Penn State SBDC provides entrepreneurs with the education, information, and tools necessary to build successful businesses. Free, confidential consulting services are provided to people looking to start or grow a small business. Our dedicated team of full-time professionals often collaborate with Penn State professors who offer SBDC clients the opportunity to participate in classroom projects, student group projects, and special team projects. Due to the large demand for our exemplary services, new clients are often referred to a Penn State SBDC seminar as an entry point for services.
Penn State SBDC’s unique and highly effective service delivery model leverages the students, faculty, and staff throughout the university, as well as partnerships with experienced professionals and leading outside organizations. Penn State SBDC serves more than 500 businesses with individualized consulting annually. These programs serve the dual function of helping entrepreneurs start and grow their companies, while offering hundreds of students each year the opportunity to apply their academic coursework across such fields as finance, management, engineering, international and global studies, health care, life sciences, and marketing to real-world entrepreneurial practice.
Founded in 1997, the Penn State SBDC is part of Penn State Outreach and Online Education. The Penn State SBDC strives to meet the business development needs of community, student, and research entrepreneurs in Centre and Mifflin counties. The Penn State SBDC is one of the eighteen university- and college-based SBDCs in Pennsylvania and is an accredited affiliate of the national network of SBDCs. The Pennsylvania SBDCs are the only statewide, nationally accredited program that provides high quality one-on-one consulting, training, and information resources to empower new and existing businesses. The SBDC program is a public/private partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and 18 universities and colleges across the Commonwealth.
Client Rights and Responsibilities
As a client of the Penn State Small Business Development Center, you have the right to expect the following out of your consulting engagement.
- Consulting Assistance Provided at No Charge – Because the SBDC program is supported by funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development, Penn State, and other funders, consulting is provided at no charge to you. Fees may apply for training programs, special services, materials, and publications. You will be notified of any fees in advance.
- Confidentiality of Information Provided – All SBDC representatives agree to abide by the Pennsylvania SBDC’s Standards of Professional Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy. Information you provide will be held in strictest confidence and will not be released to any parties outside of the Pennsylvania SBDC network without your consent. No information you provide will be used to the commercial advantage of any SBDC representative or to the advantage of a third party.
- Exceptions –
- Information about the SBDC’s service delivery is reported in aggregate to its funders and the general public. Specific information about you will not be released without your consent.
- The SBDC will collect and report in aggregate to its funders and the general public information on you such as demographic statistics; size, location, age and industry of your business; the general nature of your engagement with the SBDC; and impact statistics such as financing obtained, sales increased or jobs created.
- If you were referred to the SBDC, the SBDC will notify the referrer that you have sought assistance from the SBDC. The SBDC, however, will not disclose in detail the nature of the assistance you are requesting unless you provide consent to do so.
- Information will be shared with the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance only if you consent.
- Exceptions –
- Unbiased Recommendations – Penn State SBDC representatives will not knowingly recommend the purchase of goods or services from any individual or firm with which any SBDC representative has a financial, familial or personal interest.
- Non-Disclosure of Trade Secrets – Sensitive trade secrets about unique facts of your business will not be used to benefit another client of the SBDC or any SBDC representative. You understand that sensitive trade secret information is information which is not obvious, which is unknown, or which is unique and pertains to new inventions, secret manufacturing and processing procedures or formulas, or any new innovative process. You understand that it is your responsibility to inform the SBDC of any such sensitive trade secrets both verbally and in writing.
- Assistance, Guidance, and Education – The SBDC program is an educational program. The SBDC will work with you on your specific issues to help build your management skills and knowledge. It is your responsibility to accept and implement recommendations. The SBDC will not negotiate on your behalf, write your business plan, or act as an employee of your business.
- SBDC services are not available to individuals or entities that have been debarred or suspended by the federal government. By agreeing to receive assistance from the SBDC you are self-certifying that you are not currently federally debarred or suspended and also agree to cease using SBDC services if you become federally debarred or suspended in the future.
As an SBDC client you are responsible for:
- Participating in Surveys – Because this program cares about the quality of services provided, and because it is primarily funded with public support, the SBDC undertakes a number of initiatives to ascertain the quality and impact of services provided to you. Your candid feedback is critical to the long-term success of the Penn State SBDC. You will be asked to participate in an annual client questionnaire sent at/near the end of the calendar year. Your consultant will provide you with a link upon request.
- Informing Legislators About Your Experience with the Penn State SBDC Consulting services are provided at no charge to you because of the financial support of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), host institutions and other funders. To ensure the SBDC program will be able to sustain its program into the future, we ask that you to write to your legislators to let them know about your experience with the program. To find your legislator, visit the Pennsylvania General Assembly and enter your business address. Be sure to ask the Penn State SBDC for a copy of a support letter template and also provide a copy to the Center.
- Accepting Responsibility and Waiving all Claims – In recognition that you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business and that all decisions pertaining to implementing plans and operating your business are solely your responsibility, you hereby waive any claims of damages against the Penn State SBDC, the Pennsylvania SBDC program, any universities hosting a Pennsylvania SBDC program, the Pennsylvania State University, the US Small Business Administration, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, or any other entity that provides funding to the Pennsylvania SBDC program, based on any advice or information provided by the SBDC.
You will be asked for permission to release your name, contact information, company name, business type/NAICS code, demographic information (minority, woman and/or veteran owned status), company start date, tenure of company owner, and type of assistance provided to the Pennsylvania DCED, member organizations in the PREP program and other authorized users of the Executive Pulse database. This release is optional.
The Penn State SBDC program is supported with funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Penn State.
SBDC services are not available to individuals or entities that have been debarred or suspended by the federal government. By agreeing to receive assistance from the SBDC you are self-certifying that you are not currently federally debarred or suspended and also agree to cease using SBDC services if you become federally debarred or suspended in the future.