Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

The Clemson Region Small Business Development Center: Transforming the economic landscape of South Carolina


The Clemson Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is an integral part of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business and South Carolina’s economic development landscape. With a rich history of collaboration, the Clemson Region SBDC and Clemson University foster the entrepreneurial spirit, bolster community and academic support and drive sustainable growth across South Carolina.

Founded in 1979 as a consortium between Clemson University, SC State University, University of South Carolina and Winthrop University, the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) provide targeted economic development support to for-profit small businesses across all 46 counties of South Carolina through strategically located service centers. By providing no-fee consulting services, affordable training programs and access to complimentary support resources to small business owners throughout South Carolina, the SC SBDC has significantly impacted the entire state, assisting over 33,200 entrepreneurs. This translates to 13,000 jobs and an investment of over $427 million dollars over the past five years, with the Clemson Region SBDC leading the way.

The Clemson Region SBDC is housed within the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, proving to be continuously effective partners throughout the years, largely due to their alignment with the University’s strategic plan. By working closely with the entrepreneurs of the Upstate & Upper Savannah Area, students, faculty, staff and college leadership, the Clemson Region SBDC plays a part in positively transforming lives in South Carolina.

Alignment between the Clemson Region SBDC and The Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University creates a symbiotic relationship.  It enhances the resources available to small businesses in the region while providing opportunities for community engagement and practical applications of business knowledge.  This partnership is a powerful catalyst for economic development and entrepreneurship in the Clemson region and beyond. 

Andrea Galehouse, Clemson Region Manager and Student Program Coordinator

The SBDC serves the student population by means of a Clemson SBDC Student Center. Students can apply to become student workers and provide professionally supervised consulting services to SBDC clients, gaining authentic experience by conducting market research, working in collaborative teams, and making business growth and expansion recommendations based on research. Since the start of the Clemson SBDC Student Center, the students have assisted more than 500 businesses resulting in the equivalent of 10,500 consulting hours. This student service contribution is valued at more than $367,500 given the comparable market rate of $35/hr for Junior Consultant Services.

In another effort to boost real-world learning experiences, the SBDC collaborates with the Department of Marketing at the Powers College of Business. Leveraging their experience and extensive network, SBDC members serve as guest lecturers and provide students with direct connections to business owners.

Sarah Haddad, a Master of Science Marketing student at Clemson, shares how the Clemson Region SBDC has positively affected her as a student. “As an intern for the SBDC, I’ve learned a lot about how to be more creative with my work. While working with real-life SBDC clients in my classes, I have been able to practice more than just the creative side,” she explains. “For my class project, my team and I are coming up with a go-to-market strategy to help the business we’ve been assigned. I get to see what really goes on behind the marketing side of things, which has been very insightful. I hope to use this experience as a foundation as I apply to jobs after graduation.” 

Another intern at the Clemson Region SBDC, Faith Aldridge, echoes Haddad’s thoughts. “My time as a Marketing Research Intern at SBDC has allowed me to further explore marketing research, working with real clients to apply the terms, techniques, and tools I learn in classes every day. It is so rewarding to aid South Carolina small business clients in reaching their potential and finding success in their industries.”

Ben Smith, the Clemson Region SBDC Director, is extremely proud of what his team has accomplished through their partnership with Clemson. “Transforming lives is where we hang our hat…we’re always thinking about how we can continue to make a targeted societal impact through job creation and client investment in South Carolina to the benefit of all concerned.”

Dean York is incredibly grateful for the SBDC and their partnership with Clemson. “In alignment with our university’s strategic plan to ‘Transform Lives Statewide and Beyond, the partnership between the SBDC and Clemson University exemplifies the profound impact of collaborative endeavors. The Powers College of Business is helping to contribute to enhancing educational and economic opportunities for South Carolinians and beyond,” she says. “This partnership serves as a beacon of service, building community. Through innovative initiatives like the Clemson SBDC Student Center, where students gain real-world experience while providing invaluable services to local businesses, we witness firsthand the power of practical application of knowledge. Together, we catalyze economic development and entrepreneurship not only in the Clemson region but throughout the state, enriching lives and communities in the process.”

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