Michele Campbell, director of the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center since 2014, has worked in higher education for more than 30 years. A Leadership Oklahoma graduate, Campbell has attended numerous leadership academies. She is working on a doctorate from Swansea University in Wales. We caught up with Campbell and got her thoughts on …

… helping small businesses.

The Oklahoma Small Business Development Center is a statewide network, assisting small-business owners and entrepreneurs through free, confidential advising. Our intent is to grow Oklahoma’s economy, one small business at a time. The success of our organization is measured through the number of jobs we create and help sustain, the number of businesses we help start up, the amount of capital infusion our work pumps back into the economy, as well as the number of clients we serve.

… the benefits of opening a small business in Oklahoma.

[Along with] low corporate tax, multiple shipping options for goods (ports, rail, etc.), a good highway system, affordable utilities and the abundance of natural resources, most importantly, we are a resilient people with a great work ethic.

… and the obstacles.

Financing is one of the major issues we find business owners face, as well as having limited information needed around the markets the business will serve. While we do not provide financing through our programs, we are very good at assisting the client in preparing their plan for a lender. Most small businesses do not have the cash to get the kind of market data the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center can provide.

… helping women and minorities.

We observed an increase in our statistics from 2017 to 2018 in serving women-owned firms. We partnered with the Small Business Administration, the REI Women’s Business Center, Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s John Massey School of Business and the Don W. Sands Lectureship in Business Administration to host a Women’s Entrepreneur Seminar last fall. The Oklahoma Small Business Development Center pushes hard to work with not just women, but minority-owned businesses and veterans through training opportunities, advisement around government contracting and events focused on those specific populations … to give them the tools they need to be successful.

… the future of Oklahoma small businesses.

Small business is the backbone of our economy, and it is important to continue to put the tools and resources entrepreneurs need in their hands to start, and stay, in business. As a state, we need to not limit ourselves to traditional industries and markets, but look to how we can expand internationally, through innovative technologies, as well at ways to diversify our agriculture and oil and gas industries. We have had the opportunity to match some of our client’s products with the Department of Defense, the FBI and Homeland Security as a result of a [small-business] matchmaking project with tech scouts from those entities. We are assisting the Defense Department in helping the war fighter in the field with innovative technologies. We must stay open to those opportunities. The future is bright for Oklahoma.

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