Becky Naugle retires from Kentucky Small Business Development Center
Becky Naugle, longtime director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, is retiring May 18. After working with the center for nearly 21 years, and as director for almost 20, Naugle has witnessed a lot of changes in the state’s entrepreneurial environment and contributed to many of those changes.
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of America’s Small Business Development Center and housed in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, cultivates existing companies, nurtures new ventures, fosters job creation and increases business profitability in an effort to improve the state’s economy. Naugle and her staff oversee 12 service centers that make up the Small Business Development Center network in Kentucky, set policy, collect data and manage performance.
Small businesses make up almost 90 percent of the employers in the state and, according to Naugle, are deeply entrenched in their communities, supporting local activities and other businesses, such as local newspapers.
“We’ve seen huge changes in small businesses themselves, from going from paper and pencil ledger systems to making full use of technology,” Naugle reminisced. “We’ve seen growth across Kentucky both in minority- and woman-owned businesses, and we’ve seen some very creative business ideas.”
It’s been a highly successful run for Naugle, who said she was extremely proud that she and her staff have been good stewards of the program, particularly through data collection, obtaining good financial footing and receiving positive program reviews and accreditation.
Within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, KSBDC has worked closely with the Community Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky on a variety of projects. CEDIK’s director, Alison Davis, has been named interim director of KSBDC until a new director is hired.
“The Kentucky SBDC program serves as a national model for other Small Business Development Centers,” Davis said. “Becky is a respected and admired leader across the country, and most importantly, she exudes impeccable integrity. After nearly 20 years as the director of KSBDC, she will be deeply missed.”
KSBDC has enjoyed a close and advantageous partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“We’ve got one of the most supportive district offices in the nation, and they’ve been a delight to work with,” Naugle said.
The relationship between the two offices has been an especially effective one, according to Robert Coffey, SBA deputy district director and Small Business Development Center project officer.
“Maya Angelou once said, ‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.’ This characterizes what Becky has accomplished as KSBDC state director,” Coffey said. “She has worked tirelessly to ensure that businesses throughout the state have access to the best qualified counselors and other resources to help their business start, grow, expand and recover. She has balanced this passion with compassion for those within the network. She has been a loyal supporter of SBA initiatives while at the same time meeting the needs of UK as the host university. She has also demonstrated the ability to get the best results from any situation she has faced, and I am eager to see how she applies this to retirement!”
Naugle, who has worked under three university presidents and four deans, feels the program is in good hands.
“I look for really interesting, exciting things in the future as it goes forward,” she said.
As for Naugle’s immediate future, she plans to concentrate on growing a perfect tomato this summer.
“Not ‘the’ perfect tomato,” she laughed, “but ‘a’ perfect tomato.”