Wharton is closing its small business development center, the first in the state - Technical.ly Philly

Business

Jul. 9, 2019 1:32 pm

Wharton is closing its small business development center, the first in the state

Leaders say Philly has enough programs to support entrepreneurs in the area.
Wharton.

Wharton.

(Photo by Flickr user Sergio Carreira, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Wharton Small Business Development Center, which helped grow companies like Urban Outfitters, Sabre Systems and Destination Maternity, will be closing at the end of the month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The organization has provided free and low-cost support services to thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs for the last 40 years, and was the first small business development center in the state. It’s now one of 18, a reason leaders of the center say they’re OK closing: They believe a strong amount of support still exists for small business owners within these other programs.

Karl Ulrich, vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton, who oversees the Wharton SBDC told the Inquirer it took some “soul searching” to come to the decision.

“Where could Wharton differentiate itself and find a match between its unique capabilities and needs in the world, and we decided supporting small-business starts was not a way we could really differentiate ourselves, not an area where we could contribute better than a lot of wonderful area institutions,” Ulrich said.

Ulrich cited nearby Temple and and Widener universities as having SBDCs closest to Penn’s, and said that a recent inventory by Wharton showed that there are about 60 programs in Philadelphia with very similar programs to the Wharton SBDC.

One of the biggest projects to come out of Wharton’s SBDC is The Enterprise Center, a West Philly nonprofit that provides access to capital, building capacity, business education and economic development opportunities to minority entrepreneurs.

The Enterprise Center works with a variety of ventures, usually those in the early stages on anything from learning how to get capital to back office support and talent acquisition. Some of its recent projects include the Center for Culinary Enterprises Philly Food Innovation Program, a technical workshop for food entrepreneurs and ELevate, a one-year accelerator for growing businesses.

Advertisement

Enterprise Center Associate Director Chelsey Lowe told Technical.ly Philly that the organization doesn’t have much to say about Wharton’s SBDC closing, and that it already works well with Temple on various projects and will continue to do so.

Maura Shenker, director of Temple SBDC, has been growing and redesigning her program for the past year.

“I don’t want to sound opportunistic,” Shenker told the Inquirer. “It’s a terrible thing that Wharton SBDC is closing, but I do think Temple is in a great position to help the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support the businesses that Wharton supported.”

P.S. The Enterprise Center is one of the co-organizers of Broke in Philly’sFunding the Hustle: Accessing capital for your small, new, creative, and/or minority-owned business” event at Venture Cafe on Thursday, July 18. Shenker will also speak on a panel about building a business, to be moderated by Technical.ly Managing Editor Julie Zeglen. RSVP here.

-30-
CONTRIBUTE TO THE
JOURNALISM FUND

Already a contributor? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Preparing future employers, not just future workers

3 ways to ‘hack your hustle,’ aka grow your small business, in Philly

Small biz owners: How do you fund the hustle?

SPONSORED

Philly

How ShopRunner’s mentorship program is pushing its employees to think beyond their fields

Philadelphia

Guru Technologies

Senior Software Engineer, Back End

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Guru Technologies

Senior Data Scientist

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Guru Technologies

Lead Product Designer

Apply Now

Grow your small business with Salesforce at this Jan. 10 event

Why business leaders need to reckon with Philadelphia’s ‘deep, traumatic’ inequality

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!