For small businesses across the state, no-cost business expertise from the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) could be the reason they don’t have to close their doors during the pandemic.

The SBDC at Binghamton University is a grant-funded, SUNY-wide program that offers confidential assistance to small businesses across the Southern Tier at no charge. The SBDC at BU serves the 12-county region of the Southern Tier which includes Broome, Cortland, Chenango, Delaware, Ostego, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Yates, Allegany and Tompkins counties. The SBDC at BU is just one part of the New York SBDC program, which has 22 centers across the state, with 20 of them located at SUNY and CUNY institutions.

Typically, centers are funded by the Small Business Association (SBA), host institutions and private sources. The SBDC at BU is a part of the BU community and are tenants of the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. The staff is comprised of either BU or Research Foundation employees. Both the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator and the SBDC are within the Division of Research, specifically the Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Partnerships.

The SBDC at BU currently has 12 full-time small business advisers, four of which are funded with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. According to Rochelle Layman, regional director of the SBDC at BU, before COVID-19, 60 percent of their clients were “potential business owners” and 40 percent were existing businesses. Since the pandemic, their focus has shifted to support the existing business clients that are struggling due to drastically reduced business.

Layman explained the SBDC at BU process and the type of guidance they offer to small businesses.

“Typically a client will come to us with an idea and the small business adviser will help them model their business, figure out the project cost, write a business plan or business model canvas, create cash flows and projections and hopefully provide all the information they need for them to determine if their business can be viable,” Layman wrote in an email. “If they decide to proceed with their project, our business advisers will introduce them to lenders and help them prepare their loan applications. We also assist these clients with licenses, permits, insurance and marketing plans.”

Prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, existing businesses were encouraged to reach out to the SBDC at BU with questions regarding marketing, cash flow, expansion and product portfolios. The center works with the business to create a model of their project, create a plan, figure out the cost and help secure financing. Layman noted that COVID-19 clients require different assistance.

“Our [COVID-19] clients primarily need assistance with funding,” Layman wrote. “We help them with Paycheck Protection Program, [Economic Injury Disaster Loans] and Advances, [New York] Forward Loan and some of the other programs that are funded through federal programs.”

Within the last year, from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, a counseling statistical summary for the SBDC at BU showed that the center assisted 1,754 small businesses to create and save more than 2,400 jobs. The SBDC at BU also helped clients receive more than $51 million in funding and contracts.

In 2010, Alise Willerton went to the SBDC looking for guidance to help her with a business plan for a new bar in the area. That bar would later be known as 205 Dry. Willerton also had visions to open Uncorked Creations, a BYOB paint and sip experience, which was eventually established in 2014. With the help of Robert Griffin, a certified business advisor at the SBDC at BU, 205 Dry opened in January 2018 in Downtown Binghamton. According to the SBDC at BU website, as of 2015, Uncorked Creations employed five people, and, as of 2018, 205 Dry employed over 35 people.

According to Judi Hess, director of Visit Binghamton, Willerton, with the help of the SBDC at BU, has created a unique staple in the Binghamton community.

“She had the drive and ambition to make her vision for what the building at 205 State St. could be into a reality,” Hess said. “Downtown Binghamton has emerged as a foodie and art haven that is increasingly popular. Businesses like 205 Dry and Uncorked Creations are contributors to that popularity.”

Due to COVD-19 restrictions, the office is currently only providing virtual consultations and phone conferences. If you are requesting assistance for the first time, the SBDC at BU has an online request form at To contact the SBDC at BU, call 607-777-4024 or email at