Throughout my tenure at the chamber, I have participated in many a meeting where individuals from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) made presentations. Each presentation was always well done with an abundance of resources available to assist small business owners. I, however, had never visited the actual Small Business Development Center until last week.

Greeted by Starleen Van Buren, Director, I was provided a tour of the SBDC and quickly became impressed by the quantity of programs available. The mission of the SBDC, hosted by El Camino College, is to be the number one service provider of no-cost, expert entrepreneurial consulting, education and access to capital assistance for the small business community in the greater South Bay and Los Angeles area.

“The Center basically provides three specific things; advisors who have expertise in specific areas, free to low-cost workshops, and preparation of loan packages for clients” commented VanBuren. After being provided an extensive list of workshops to be held in January 2020, I saw there are 21 of them, with the majority of them being free. Workshop topics include, but are not limited to, the basics of starting a business, business loans 101, business plan overview and legal structure.

VanBuren, who has been Director for 11 years, stated that she enjoys her job because there is something different every day. “The SBDC is a learning environment. We help people each day. I enjoy seeing people achieve and reach their goals,” said VanBuren. The SBDC has 10-12 advisors on staff which include CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 executives. These individuals understand the business climate.

The SBDC program is a nationwide program with more than 1,000 service points throughout the country. California’s SBDC program is one of the state’s primary resource partners for small business development with a mission of providing new or existing businesses with confidential, one-on-one advising and expert training – at no cost.

If you are a business owner who would like to take advantage of the multitude of programs and services offered by SBDC, please visit their website at or call at (310) 225-8277.

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