The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith received more than $78,000 to launch the newest regional office – to be located in downtown Fort Smith – of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.
UAFS Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley said in December the center will be located at UAFS at The Bakery District, which also will become the new home for UAFS’ Center for Business and Professional Development and the Family Enterprise Center, both of which are now housed in the Flanders Building. The Bakery District is a developing hub for small businesses and community events at 70 S. Seventh St., in what was the 1920s-era Shipley Baking Co.
Funding for regional offices of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration and administered by the lead center located at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Dr. Latisha Settlage, interim dean of the College of Business, led efforts at UAFS to secure funding for the Fort Smith office and said the ASBTDC office will be a resource to the greater Fort Smith region.
“UAFS and the College of Business are proud to support economic development in the River Valley through this partnership with ASBTDC. We look forward to engaging our faculty and students with the work of this business outreach center,” Settlage said.
The ASBTDC’s mission is to help small businesses and entrepreneurs launch and develop businesses that in turn strengthen and sustain the economy and communities of Arkansas, a UAFS news release said. Businesses and entrepreneurs also can expand their expertise by participating in affordable educational events.
“In collaboration with fellow ASBTDC offices around the state, the Fort Smith regional office will work with all types of for-profit business, from home-based to high-tech. Serving Crawford, Sebastian and Scott counties, clients can receive one-on-one confidential consulting and cutting-edge market research at no charge,” the release said.
ASBTDC offices have to be associated with a university. Riley signed a memo of understanding (MOU) with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock early in December to one located at UAFS at The Bakery District, she said in an interview with Talk Business & Politics.
“UALR was watching these appointments happening in Russellville, and … more than half of these appointments were coming from Fort Smith or Van Buren. … And they are having to go all that way,” Riley said.
The Fort Smith ASBTDC office will join the two existing UAFS business outreach units, the Center for Business and Professional Development, which provides customized training and consulting to meet company-specific needs, and the Family Enterprise Center, which offers family businesses a learning community. The ASBTDC office will report to the UAFS College of Business and will officially open with the hiring of a new director. A search for the ASBTDC director is underway, the news release said.