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Founder of Alexandria’s Small Business Development Center Retires Next Year

Bill Reagan retires after 25 years with SBDC. (Photo Steven Halperson, Tisara Photography)

ALEXANDRIA, VA–Bill Reagan, Founder and Executive Director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC), will retire in January 2022, after 25 years.

The SBDC is the city’s proponent of and resource provider to local small businesses, current and new. From tools like counseling, training, and information, the SBDC helps you start, manage, and grow your business in Alexandria. Reagan founded the SBDC with this style of broad support in mind.

SBDC ribbon cutting (December 1996): L to R: Councilman Bill Euille, Councilman Bill Cleveland, Vice Mayor Del Pepper, SBA Assoc. Administrator Johnnie Albertson, GW Business School Dean David Fowler, State Sen. Patsy Ticer, State Del. Brian Moran, Bill Reagan, Rep. Jim Moran, Mayor Kerry Donley, and Chamber ALX CEO Kathy Snyder. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Bolton)

Why did Reagan start the SBDC?

He explains, “At that time there were no economic development resources in Alexandria for small businesses. Small business owners and those trying to start a small business need answers to questions, and they waste time and make costly mistakes until they get them. Because small businesses are vital to Alexandria’s economy and character, I worked with then-Councilmembers Bill Euille and Lois Walker to get City support for such a small business resource.”

As Reagan built his business on the basis of support, upon his departure he is ensured it is in safe hands with his colleagues.

He says, “I fully expect my colleagues to continue providing the timely, objective, and expert guidance for the everyday small business challenges that the SBDC is known for.”

So, where does he hope to see the SBDC go in the next 25 years? According to Reagan, the SBDC is working on diversifying, through targeted outreach to Hispanic and African American business owners, “many of whom have been underserved in the past,” he states.

Reagan continues to assure that the SBDC will remain steadfast in its support of local businesses. “A key characteristic of Alexandria’s small business support is that we have always quickly stepped up to provide worthwhile guidance and resources to whatever circumstances impact small businesses, whether that’s been economic downturn, hurricanes, technology shifts, or pandemics. That will continue!”

Stephanie Landrum, President and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, agrees with this projection.

“In the immediate term, the Alexandria SBDC will continue as usual, thanks to our dedicated staff and outside consultants. The type of support and advice our small business community needs continues to evolve, and other economic development and business organizations jumped in alongside the SBDC to support small business throughout the pandemic. As we look to more permanently add new services for small businesses, we are first assessing what’s working and areas where we can improve, building on the SBDC’s foundation.”

Although Reagan will simply be living in Alexandria and no longer working in it, he reflects on his time in business here. “Few business communities enjoy the engaged and collaborative relationships that we have among government, economic development, tourism, chamber, and business groups – all of us focused more on getting things done than seeking the spotlight.”

So, after 25 years starting, managing, and growing his own business, founder Reagan is stepping down, leaving behind a legacy and lots of love.

In conclusion, Landrum states, “Bill’s love of Alexandria’s small businesses and desire to see them succeed has always shone through.​ He is a great colleague, and we’ll miss him as part of the overall economic development team.”

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