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In 1980, Congress created the Small Business Development Centers in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide management assistance and stimulate economic growth. The centers are a statewide network and are located on college and university campuses that host and support the program. The University of Missouri's Extension Division houses the system.

Their focus is to create economic impact through the counseling and training of businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The Northwest Small Business Development Center falls under the direction of Northwest Missouri State University and is also sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Their geographical region covers 17 counties spanning from Atchison County, southward to Platte County and eastward to Livingston County. There are three offices in the service region of the Northwest SBDC. The regional office is located in Maryville, Missouri. An office in Chillicothe serves the eastern portion of the region while an office in St. Joseph serves the southern section.

The SBTDC helps business owners and potential entrepreneurs meet today's competitive challenges. The SBDC offers consulting at no charge and follow-up services are available for all programs.

In 1985, Northwest Missouri State University became the host institution for northwest Missouri's Small Business Development Centers. Offices have always been maintained in Maryville and St. Joseph, and the Chillicothe office was added in 1995 to serve the eastern region.