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The North Central Texas Small Business Development Center recently won its first major regional award. “We’re here to help economic development in the region, and we won the award because we’re the best at it,” director Brad Bunt said.

The North Central Texas Small Business Development Center has earned its first major regional award for exceeding goals to help start, grow and finance small businesses in Denton, Cooke and Montague counties.

It was named the district’s Small Business Development Center of the year, beating out more than a dozen other centers for the award this year.

“We love beating Dallas, Collin County and Fort Worth,” said Brad Bunt, director of the center. “The majority of people we help are already in business and have questions about marketing, expanding sales or obtaining financing. We’re here to help economic development in the region, and we won the award because we’re the best at it.”

The center has regular business hours in Corinth and at the Denton Chamber of Commerce, and it has three other locations operating on a regular basis.

It’s a product of a partnership program with the U.S. Small Business Administration and hosted by North Central Texas College. The services include free counseling and information, from business planning to free and low-cost workshops to help small business owners.

Bunt came to Denton for the job in January 2017 to help the center increase its loan program and help established businesses grow to create a bigger economic impact, he said.

Last fiscal year under Bunt’s leadership, the center had 36 new businesses open, helped create 167 jobs and helped businesses get $19.4 million of capital, according to the center.

So far this year, which runs from Oct. 1 2018 to Sept. 30, the center already has 27 new business openings and 159 new jobs created, exceeding its goals for the year.

“I think we’ve emphasized more on the existing business base and try to work with creative financing options because we can work with conventional loans, SBA loans and other options,” he said. “We have knowledge of when someone needs capital to grow and they might not be bank ready, and we try to find other options for them.”

The award will be formally presented next month during the Salute to North Texas Small Business Awards luncheon.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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