State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Announces New Director

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Michele Abraham will begin Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 as the new state director of the Frank L. Roddey South Carolina Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Abraham will replace John Lenti, who retired after more than 20 years of service.

“We are excited to have someone of Michele’s professionalism leading the Small Business Development Center,” said Claude Lilly, dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science at Clemson. “Her experience creating, building and promoting small businesses will prove invaluable in continuing the momentum for economic recovery and prosperity we’ve built here in the Upstate.”

Abraham comes to South Carolina from the Ohio Small Business Development Center. She will be based at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, S.C., and will serve as chief executive over a statewide network in operation since 1979. The 16 offices and 35 full-time employees are primarily financed by the Small Business Administration with additional support provided by state funds from South Carolina and the member schools, which are Clemson University, SC State University, University of South Carolina (USC) and Winthrop University. All the schools incorporate center activities with student instruction in entrepreneurship, finance and related courses.

“We are thrilled to have Michele Abraham as our new state director of the Small Business Development Center.  She will bring an energy that is much needed at this time,” said Dr. Robert Barrett, dean of the College of Business and Applied Professional Sciences at SC State University. “We will see progressive initiatives that will drive the small business communities in our state.  These initiatives will be well received in this difficult economic time,” continued Barrett.

“I am looking forward to working with Michele Abraham, the new state director of the South Carolina Development Center,” said John Goodwin, regional director for the Small Business Development Center at SC State. “It is good to know that she is bringing experience and expertise that will make her an asset to the South Carolina Development Center, and to continue the growth of the center with workable programs.”

There are approximately 90,000 small businesses in South Carolina that account for more than 97 percent of all employers, and this development will continue.

“The SBDC is a tremendous asset for economic growth in our state,” said Roger Weikle, chairman of the search committee for the new director, and dean of Winthrop’s College of Business Administration. “We are fortunate to have found Michele, who has done this work in a large SBDC, in private industry and has managed small businesses of her own. She knows the strategy of high tech industry clusters that are essential for future growth.”

Last year, the network’s staff worked with approximately 2,500 clients to raise almost $60 million in capital.  The staff is charged with building a strong, vibrant statewide system to provide low cost help to small business owners to strengthen the state’s economy through consulting, continuing education programs and instructional resources. Centers help guide those with business ideas through the start-up and business plan phase and with existing companies who have growth and expansion plans.