SBDC at UW-Eau Claire honored during National Small Business Week 2023

SBA Awards Presentation (l to r: Gregg, Luke, Harlie, Bon, Eric, Ray)

Congratulations to the SBDC at UW-Eau Claire for receiving the 2023 Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Center for Excellence and Innovation Award!

As part of National Small Business Week, the Wisconsin SBA presented the award on Thursday, May 4 to Center Director Luke Kempen and Associate Director Harlie Juedes in an intimate ceremony that included representation and congratulations from the Wisconsin SBDC State Network, Wisconsin Economic Development Center and Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office.

“People from across the state draw on Luke’s wealth of knowledge to access capital for their small businesses across every industry,” said Eric Ness, SBA Wisconsin District Director.

“SBDC at UW-Eau Claire’s innovative Capital Access Clinic is a critical asset that helps the network prepare clients to access the capital they need to grow their businesses,” said Bon Wikenheiser, Wisconsin SBDC State Director. “Thanks to Luke’s idea and Harlie’s incredible execution, state and local partners have also invested in the Clinic to expand its capacity after seeing the measurable results.”

After the presentation of the award, Center Director Luke Kempen took the floor to thank attendees and give an overview of the successes of his center. Kempen highlighted, and answered questions on, their three primary reasons for success:

  1. Student Consultants have been trained by experts and allow the center to significantly expand its reach. These are not interns; these are students who are able to assess businesses and provide recommendations and services.
  2. The Capital Access Clinic provides assistance to Wisconsin entrepreneurs who are seeking financing for their business. Through the Capital Access Clinic, entrepreneurs across the state have access to an expert team of financial consultants, at no cost.
  3. Small Business Clinics have been hosted in underserved areas across the state. SBDC consultants and their partners provide a ‘check-up’ for the business and then provide the services they ‘prescribe.’

“COVID helped build recognition of our services, but we had to figure out a way to significantly expand our capacity. We took our kayaks out of the lake and put them into a tumultuous river. Expanding to include Student Consultants allowed us to navigate those waters,” said Kempen. “We’re evolving. Sometimes we fail and sometimes it works, but we have a really solid foundation that we are striving to perfect.”

If you are seeking financing for your Wisconsin small business, see if you’re a good fit for the Capital Access Clinic.

Bon Eau Claire Center of the Year
Eric Ness SBA Awards PResentation