Sonya Smith Appointed as SUNY State Director of the New York Small Business Development Centers

January 31, 2022

Known for Bringing Together Public/Private Partnerships and Creating Innovative Statewide Programs to Assist Small Businesses, Smith has Risen Up Through the Ranks of SBDC

Last Year SUNY’s 22 Regional SBDCs Served Critical Role in State’s Pandemic Response Helping 5,500 Businesses Secure $600 Million in Federal Funding, Saving 28,000 Jobs, and Creating 2,500 New Jobs

Smith’s Photo Available Here

Albany, NY – State University of New York Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley announced today the appointment of Sonya Smith as the SUNY State Director of the New York Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Smith is known for bringing together public/private partnerships and creating innovative programs to assist small businesses served by SBDC. She has risen in the ranks through SBDC, and is the first woman and first African American appointed to lead New York’s vast SBDC network in its nearly 40-year history. Smith previously served as the Pennsylvania SBDC’s associate state director of programs and policy.

“Sonya Smith brings that wealth of experience to New York’s SBDCs at a critical time for small businesses as the economy rebounds,” said Interim Chancellor Stanley. “In the last 21 months, New York’s 22 SBDCs helped small businesses reimagine the services they provide, reopen, and thrive over a tumultuous and unprecedented period. Sonya’s tenure with the Pennsylvania SBDC was marked by her collaborative style of leadership, focus on results, and innovative approach to engaging with communities who most need the services provided by SBDCs. We are pleased Sonya has taken the helm to help New York’s entrepreneurs make their business dreams a reality.”

SUNY Board Trustee Marcos Crespo said, “New York’s Small Business Development Centers continue to play an important role in the state’s economic development, in which they tirelessly provide insight and expertise to lead the state’s long-term economic recovery. The small businesses SBDC assist are the fabric of communities, and deserve the support of public agencies to continue to operate and cultivate their success. With the knowledge and passion Sonya Smith brings to SUNY’s SBDC, I am confident that she will lead the charge in assisting more businesses and entrepreneurs, while also continuing New York’s legacy of growing and maintaining small businesses, even in the midst of the most challenging setbacks.”

New York’s network of 22 regional SBDCs are the nation’s premier consulting services for small business owners and entrepreneurs and represent an integral part of the state’s entrepreneurship and economic agenda. SBDCs played a critical role in the state’s pandemic response, helping nearly 5,500 COVID-19 impacted businesses secure more than $600 million in federal funding to date, and helping thousands more navigate ways to operate remotely. This work helped preserve over 28,000 jobs and created 2,500 new ones over the past year alone.

Mark Madrid, associate administrator for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Entrepreneurial Development said, “As Administrator Guzman asserts, we need to be as entrepreneurial as the small business we serve. Ms. Smith’s long track record developing innovative ways to meet small businesses where they are is exactly the experience that this role demands. Sonya brings distinguished passion and energy as the incoming state director of the New York SBDCs. I am thrilled to partner with Ms. Smith to design new ways to support small businesses in the great state of New York.”

SBA Upstate New York District Director Bernard J. Paprocki said, “NY SBDCs are valuable U.S. Small Business Administration resource partners that our federal agency is proud to jointly fund. I’m looking forward to working with Sonya and know she will have a commitment to enhancing small businesses and providing top-notch, one-on-one assistance to entrepreneurs through the New York SBDC network. The SBA Upstate District Office is looking forward to partnering with her, as well as the great SBDCs and small business counselors who make up the organization’s vast network.”

Director Smith said, “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of our economic well-being. COVID-19 fundamentally changed the needs of these individuals, and altered how SBDCs support, communicate, and deliver services and programs they need to succeed. New York’s SBDC is a nation-leading program, and its partnership with the SUNY system provides huge potential for entrepreneurs across the state. I thank Interim Chancellor Stanley for welcoming me so warmly, and I look forward to working with SUNY and our state and federal partners to continue growing New York SBDC’s reach to support these entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

Senator Anna M. Kaplan, chair of the State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business said, “With our small business community continuing to feel the devastating impact of the pandemic, the role of New York’s SBDC’s as a resource and a lifeline for small business owners is more important than ever. I’m thrilled that Sonya Smith has been appointed to lead our state’s SBDC network, bringing her vast experience and her unique perspective to the role, and ensuring these vital centers will continue to provide the high-quality assistance that business owners have come to rely upon.”

Assembly Member Harry B. Bronson, chair of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce, and Industry said, “As a small business owner and the chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Development, I know how New York Small Business Development Centers have helped small business owners across our state. I welcome Sonya Smith as the state director of the New York Small Business Development Centers. With COVID-19 and the challenges of workforce recruitment and retention, reimagining the business model and rebuilding in the face of an economic crisis will require strong innovative approaches to ensure success. I know Ms. Smith’s experience will help her focus on small business assistance and rebuild our economy that will include all New Yorkers.”

Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, said, “I applaud the appointment of Sonya Smith as the new state director of the New York Small Business Development Centers. Sonya has a track record of creatively using data to craft and implement programs to help small businesses. As New York State’s small businesses continue to experience hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonya Smith will be the right person to guide business owners through this difficult time.”

Garry Douglas, CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said, “We welcome Sonya Smith's appointment to lead New York's SBDC system and thank SUNY for choosing so well. It has taken no time at all for her to reach out to us and to other key business organizations to start planning for enhanced collaborations. She is the right person in the right role at the right time, and we look forward to actively working with her. Onward and upward!”

Randy Peers, CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said, “I had the pleasure of first working with Sonya Smith when we were both in Pennsylvania, and she was working with the SBDC network in Berks County and then statewide. Sonya is a talented professional who understands the challenges our small businesses face, and I know she will work hard to ensure the SBDC network in New York State will meet the needs of those businesses.”

Phil Andrews, CEO of the LI African American Chamber of Commerce said, “Sonya Smith's appointment to state director of the New York State Business Development Centers at this time is critical to the SBDC's mission in aiding with economic recovery. Sonya's lengthy years of experience working in leadership positions across the Small Business Development Centers network will ensure delivery of top-notch services to small business owners in New York State.”

About Sonya Smith

Smith comes to SUNY from the Pennsylvania SBDC, where she most recently served as associate state director of programs, managing the design and implementation of services provided by 16 regional centers and more than 120 staff to support Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and small businesses. She led the creation of a dashboard for network performance data, which was continuously evaluated for compliance and to make data-driven decisions for innovative programs. She also successfully led an organizational change management initiative to ensure the SBDC maintained its relevance for building small business knowledge and expertise.

Prior to this, Smith served as the assistant director of Grants and Sponsored Projects at Kutztown University, and before that, rose through the ranks of Pennsylvania’s SBDC, holding the positions of assistant director, budget analyst, and associate business consultant at the Kutztown University SBDC. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Kutztown University, and a bachelor’s in accounting from Albright College.

About NY SBDC

Established in 1984, the New York SBDC has worked since then with more than 519,000 businesses, helping them to invest $7.5 billion in the state economy and create more than 240,000 jobs. The New York SBDC works closely with other state economic development agencies, faculty, and students at host institutions, as well as representatives from private industry and business to focus resources on assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs. To learn more about how NY SBDC provides free services to entrepreneurs, visit www.nysbdc.org.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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