MANASSAS — The Manassas Economic Development Authority approved a proposal for a new small business development center (SBDC) office in downtown Manassas.

The office will be located at CenterFuse and open one day a week at first to gauge interest and demand. Hours and staff may expand from there. It is an extension of the Mason SBDC at George Mason University–Mason Enterprise Center in Fairfax.

The new SBDC office will open its doors and begin offering services in January.

This news comes shortly after Flory Center Small Business Center Executive Director Linda Decker announced she would be retiring in December, after more than 30 years in the region. Decker said the Flory Center Board of Directors agreed to temporarily suspend operations following her retirement as it looks at the next steps for the center.

The Flory Center has provided valuable business resources and services in Manassas since 1991. Its closing leaves a void in business assistance services in the area that the new SBDC location will fill.

Although Manassas businesses could always travel to Fairfax or other SBDC locations in the region, having one located right in Downtown Manassas will make resources more accessible.

“I am excited the City’s Economic Development Authority was able to help support our efforts to grow small businesses in the community,” said Patrick Small, economic development director for Manassas.

“Having an SBDC office located at CenterFuse in Historic Downtown Manassas will allow existing small businesses and aspiring business owners direct access to counseling and support services close to their homes and offices,” Small said.

Virginia SBDCs provide business counseling, training and resources to help grow and strengthen businesses. Business owners can meet with counselors or business analysts, or take advantage of small-group training sessions and presentations.

“It makes good sense” to establish this new location, Jody Keenan, state director of Virginia SBDC, told Potomac Local. “We’re optimistic that once we’re [in Downtown] and the city is helping to promote us and drive clients to us, that we will absolutely have an impact.”

Keenan shared that even without any official promotion or recruitment yet, SBDC has still generated much activity and interest among business owners in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

For its outreach in Manassas, Keenan said that “we have a small town and merchant program, focusing on retail and restaurant owners,” ideal for Downtown. “In addition to our general business guidance and access to capital marketing, we have many resources for government contracting, which there is a lot of in Manassas,” said Keenan.

A funding request of $24,540 was proposed, which includes funds for personnel and networking events. Prince William County will reportedly dedicate resources to staffing. The County may establish additional points of SBDC service, according to a press release from Small.

“Combined, these offices throughout the region will provide extensive coverage for small businesses,” states the press release.