Carol Frink is retiring three years after becoming director of the Blue Mountain Community College Small Business Development Center, but she made her mark during the time she was there.
Her last day on the job will be March 31.
The center went from the Oregon network’s lowest performing center to one of its highest during Frink’s tenure, according to a news release from BMCC.
Small Business Development Centers are funded by a combination of state funding, federal funding and money from the center’s host — in this case, BMCC. They offer free assistance to for-profit business owners, whether they’re starting a business, looking to expand or working to pass the business on before retirement.
When Frink started in 2016 the SBDC had 197 clients served, three new business starts, 25 new jobs, 24 retained jobs and help obtaining $77,000 in loans, according to a news release from BMCC. In 2018 the same center served 418 clients, 29 new business starts, 91 jobs created, 12 jobs retained and $1,783,803 in loans obtained.
Frink said her strategy to improve the BMCC site — which serves Umatilla, Union and Baker counties — revolved around “getting good at what we do.” She worked hard to train staff on best practices for every aspect of their job, from advising clients to filling out reports.
“If you genuinely do the work, the impacts come,” she said.
Frink said the center operates under a strict code of confidentiality, so they can’t tell business owners what other specific clients are doing. But advisors do get good at coming up with solutions for common obstacles, and can help entrepreneurs come up with a strong business plan for getting “unstuck.”
“Everyone who comes in to see us feels like they’re the only one that has that problem, and we know that’s not close to true,” she said. “We hear the same things over and over again.”
Frink said the decision to retire was a difficult one, but her husband retired in December and she wants to spend more time traveling with him and seeing her three grandchildren.
“It’s not an easy decision, but at the end of the day you just know when it’s right,” she said.
Blue Mountain Community College has been “amazing” to work with, Frink said. The college will work to fill her position close to her March 31 retirement date.
The BMCC SBDC has offices in Pendleton, Hermiston, Milton-Freewater, Baker City and Enterprise. For more information about its services call 541-278-5833.