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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 Missouri 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 nine counties. The counties covered are Atchison, Gentry, Nodaway, Worth, Holt, Andrew, Clinton, DeKalb and Buchanan. The main office operates out of St. Joseph.

The Missouri SBDC helps business owners and potential entrepreneurs meet today's competitive challenges. The Missouri 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. Historically, offices have been located in Chillicothe, Maryville and St. Joseph.