Businesses in Butte County have faced many challenges since the Camp Fire in 2018. These were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the economy remained mostly locked down, the Butte College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assisted Butte County businesses in creating 166 jobs; saved 761 jobs; and developed 77 new business startups with total investment of $7.2 million. During that time, SBDC provided consulting services, trainings and webinars in all aspects of business management while guiding 433 businesses toward accessing over $30.7 million in loans and grants, including federal, state and local government COVID-recovery assistance—all at no charge.
The SBDC was created in 1987 to provide free one-on-one business consulting and trainings to business owners and potential entrepreneurs in all areas of business startup, development, management, growth and accessing capital. The program is funded in part by the federal government through the Small Business Administration and the state through the governor’s Office of Economic Development (Go-Biz). The SBDC is your tax dollars at work.
Given the record in the U.S. of new-business failure (about 50 percent close within the first five years), Butte College SBDC was established to help small businesses buck that trend. The SBDC operates against the backdrop that small business—constituting 90 percent of all businesses in the United States—is a vital engine of economic development and job creation. Small businesses bring growth and spark innovation; provide new employment opportunities, including self-employment; support and contribute to larger businesses; at times grow to become major corporations and stay in their communities where they were established; and are able to adapt quickly to changes in the business and economic climate.
Although the pandemic was difficult for small businesses, it created and fostered new ideas and innovations from entrepreneurs and pushed small businesses to become competitive in the digital technology space. Butte College SBDC saw more new business startups and investments during the pandemic then the two years prior.
As businesses continue to recover, Butte College SBDC remains open to provide business consulting assistance in Butte, Glenn, Tehama and Colusa counties. Businesses can access these free services by calling (530) 895-9017 or visiting buttecollegesbdc.com.
The author is the director of the Butte College Small Business Development Center.