The report, by a peer group of state and associate state directors, cited several areas for commendation but is especially complimentary of the organization’s ability to add value to its key stakeholders, which include the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Planning and Development District III, Grow South Dakota, West River Foundation, the University of South Dakota and the Citi Bank Foundation.

“Receiving accreditation with no conditions is challenging and it has been many years since South Dakota has seen that,” said Mark Slade, Associate State Director. “In more than 15 years of being with the SBDC, this is a first.”

The South Dakota Small Business Development Center is reviewed by a team of state and associate state directors every five years. The review follows the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and focuses on organizational improvement in meeting customer needs as well as in workforce satisfaction and leadership. SBDC’s must be accredited in order to receive funding from the SBA.

“Reviewers are chosen from the most seasoned state directors and bring a wealth of knowledge to the process and they are in the state for an entire week, plus there is an extensive self-study the staff must complete ahead of time,” stated John Brown, District Director for the SBA, who attests that the standard is rigorous. “It is a chance to not only be reviewed but to learn from the best practices of the other 63 networks across the country.”

According to Nathan Lukkes, Deputy Commissioner for the Governor's Office of Economic Development, “The SBDC network is a great partner for us and we rely on them to assist small businesses across our state in not only starting up but in growing their businesses as well. It is all part of keeping our robust South Dakota economy moving forward.”

State Director Jeff Eckhoff cites the staff as the key to the SBDC’s success. “We just have the best people working for us”, said Eckhoff. “Our staff is experienced and well known and well respected in their communities. The reviewers instantly recognized the quality of our people all across the state and added a commendation in the report on their high level of motivation and professionalism.”

The South Dakota Small Business Development Center is part of a national network of 63 host sites with over 900 service centers across the country and in the U.S. territories. They are sponsored by the University of South Dakota and provide business advising on a statewide basis with offices in Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown and Yankton. The SBDC network also provides assistance with government contracting, international trade, early stage funding and operational improvement and innovation for manufacturers. For more information contact the Small Business Development Center at (605) 677-5103 or

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