A new audit questions the effectiveness of South Carolina’s small business development program, noting many of the consultants the program uses have no experience working with small business and that the information about businesses it aids is kept secret.
The Legislative Audit Council on Monday released its audit of South Carolina’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), which uses state and federal money to consult and help new small businesses. The centers are divided into four regions supported by an area college — Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University and Winthrop University. The centers say they helped create 189 new businesses and “created or saved” 1,277 jobs last year.
However, auditors said they have no way to verify those numbers. The LAC report states they tried to access SBDC’s client database to confirm the numbers cited. However, they were denied, with the program’s management citing confidentiality and federal Small Business Administration (SBA) rules. Auditors said they reached out to the Small Business Administration, noting there had been precedent in other state audits like Montana. However, the SBA would not allow “unrestricted access” to the database without the written consent of the businesses affected. [Read more…]