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Press Release  
Release Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 11:10 AM
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Media Contact:
Kerry-Ann Hamilton
Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing
Office of University Communications
DC Small Business Development Center Survey Captures
Business Landscape in Nation’s Capital

WASHINGTON (September 19, 2011) – The District of Columbia Small Business Development Center, hosted by Howard University, has published the results of its recent Small Business Needs Assessment Survey. DC small businesses express optimism in the survey that business opportunities will improve over the next 36 months. Results also highlight respondents’ concern in the areas of access to capital and selling to the government.

The District of Columbia Small Business Development Center, a co-operative program in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, has been hosted by Howard University since 1979. It serves tens of thousands of District small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

In the survey, 40.2% of respondents reported that their firm’s revenues increased between 2010 and 2011, while 33.6% reported their revenues decreased.

“In light of the current economic conditions nationwide, it is important and encouraging to note that 78 % of DC small businesses responding to the survey believe their business opportunities would improve over the next one to three years in the District,” said Harold Pettigrew, acting director of the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development.

“The DC SBDC Network wanted to capture a clear snapshot of what our local small business community is experiencing outside of policy discussions and analysis,” said Darrell Brown, executive director of DC SBDC.

Briefings on the results and possible action steps for improving the climate for small businesses in the District will be available for local government agencies and community stakeholders who share the DC SBDC’s commitment to enhancing the growth and development of the District’s small business community.

The SBA reports that small businesses generated approximately 65% of net new jobs in the U.S. over the past 17 years. As a part of the ongoing debate about improving the national economy, both federal and local government leaders have emphasized that small businesses are critical to jump-starting the economy and reducing unemployment. 

Nearly 200 small business owners responded to the survey, which was emailed to approximately 3,000 small business owners in the District of Columbia. The email survey was sent to the DC SBDC’s clients, Small Business Administration’s 8(a) certified businesses, small business members of the DC Chamber of Commerce, DC Women’s Business Center clients, and District Government’s Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Certified Business Enterprises.

Results show that access to capital is a primary concern. Selling to the government is the unquestioned leading interest and concern of survey respondents in the area of marketing. Government services for small businesses, regulatory compliance, and knowledge of small business legislation dominated the desire for more knowledge in the area of government. DC Small Business owners and managers responding to the survey outlined four areas of management deemed most critical to their firm’s growth and profitability: marketing, capital access, government procurement, and financial management. 

Samira Cook, director of the DC Women’s Business Center noted: “In light of 46% of the survey respondents being women-owned businesses, the results of the survey will be useful to the DC Women’s Business Center.”

Margaret Singleton, director of the DC Chamber of Commerce Foundation, stated that the results reinforce the need for champions of small business to continue to collaborate and expand economic opportunities for all DC businesses.

Albert “Butch” Hopkins, president and CEO of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), said the survey results would be a useful tool for the corporation and for the DC SBDC Service Center that AEDC hosts in efforts to enhance economic opportunity and development East of the River.

Small businesses in service industries comprise the largest percentage (41.8%) of survey respondents. Twenty percent of respondents are in construction, 8.6% are in retail, 5.9% work in finance, insurance or real estate, 2.1% are in manufacturing and just over one and 1.6% are in wholesale.

Among the results: Although only 46.7% of respondents had ever been awarded a government contract, 13% of businesses surveyed had been awarded government contracts valued over $1 million, confirming that government remains a significant source of revenue.

The survey covered a cross-section of the DC small business community: 63.5% of respondents employ 1-5 full-time employees and 62.5% employ 1-5 part-time employees. The percentage of respondents who employ from 11-25 full time employees is 14.1%. 

Survey respondents answered 30 questions that measured their concerns and needs in such areas as financial management, marketing, general business management, technology, personnel management, government, growth and profitability, and outlook for future business opportunities. 

When questioned about the survey’s response rate, Don Wilson, DC SBDC director of training and former CEO of the Association of Small Business Development Centers, said: “Considering typical open rates, click through and conversion rates for unsolicited marketing emails, we are well pleased with an actual response rate of nearly 7%.” 

Additional contacts:
Don Wilson or Niambi Jarvis
DC Small Business Development Center
Phone: (202) 806-1550

About the DC Small Business Development Center Network
The DC SBDC Network is an outreach program of Howard University. Howard works in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the DC Chamber of Commerce, and the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation to provide no-cost small business management technical assistance and training to District of Columbia-based small businesses. DC SBDC’s business management consultants provide confidential, one-on-one management assistance in a number of areas, including business plan development, marketing, finance, access to capital, international trade and human resource management. Last year, the DC SBDC Network provided one-on-one management consulting and training to nearly 1,400 DC small business owners, managers, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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