SBDC Comes Through in Toughest of Times

When small businesses in New Hampshire began experiencing the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many felt rudderless and lost in a sea of uncertainty. NH SBDC became their beacon of light.

For business owners like Peter van Berkum and Steve Cunningham, their SBDC advisors helped save their businesses.

“Warren has seen us through a number of storms, and this is just the most recent one,” van Berkum says of SBDC advisor Warren Daniel. “He helped us get focused on all the information the government was throwing at us. He had a better handle on where it was all going than I did, so that was great.”

Cunningham said the guidance provided by SBDC advisor Andrea O’Brien was “life-saving. We would have been out of business.”

Cunningham, owner of National Flight Simulator in Manchester, and van Berkum, owner of Van Berkum Nursery in Deerfield, are among the many small business owners the SBDC helped apply for government funding to keep their businesses solvent and doors open.

The NH SBDC serves as a resource for small businesses, helping owners such as Cunningham and van Berkum stay in business by providing direction to resources that include the federal aid available to them.

“The impact of a small business closing or struggling to stay open has long- and short-term effects on our economy and our communities," Daniel says. "A business that was providing a service to their community is gone. People lose their jobs. Families relocate. The impact can be devastating."

Saturday, November 28th may be Small Business Saturday, created 10 years ago to encourage shoppers to support their local brick-and-mortar stores during the holiday season, but every day is about small businesses for the SBDC.

Staying open during the holiday season is essential for many small businesses, something that 65 percent of small businesses are concerned about, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 44 percent of our country’s economic activity. They create two-thirds of the net new jobs and “drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

In New Hampshire, the state's 136,535 small businesses account for 99 percent of the state's companies and employ over 300,000 people. Of the 1,398 clients NH SBDC has served in 2020, 11.8 percent are in the retail industry. The pandemic may have changed the way Americans shop, but New Hampshire’s small businesses are finding creative ways to entice consumers to shop local throughout the holiday season.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economic infrastructure,” says Liz Gray, state director for the NH SBDC. “We are dedicated to making sure each small business owner who comes to us for advice is given every tool available to grow in a sustainable way and has a plan to be resilient when times are tough.”

For more information on putting together a sustainable plan to grow your business, go to and get paired with an advisor.