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BHSU Establishes Center for Enterprise Opportunity


Black Hills State University has now established the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO), funded by a $750,000 Small Business Administration grant, that will provide management and technical assistance, comprehensive training, and counseling for entrepreneurs.

The center, referred to as the SD CEO, is located on the BHSU campus and will be part of a network of more than 75 centers nationwide established through the SBA women’s business funding. The goal of the center is to work with people throughout the state and region to assist them in reaching their goal of establishing and successfully managing their own businesses.

Helen Merriman, Spearfish, has been selected to serve as director of the center.

“Black Hills State University is pleased to announce that Helen Merriman is the director for the new Center for Enterprise Opportunity,” BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says. “Under Helen’s leadership the SD CEO will serve as a resource for people who have a goal of owning their own business. BHSU, which has one of the largest business programs in the state, views the establishment of this center as another way we can work with community members to strengthen the economy and create opportunities for entrepreneurs and their future employees.”

The SD CEO will work with aspiring entrepreneurs and provide support through education, counseling, training, and advocacy in all stages of business development.

Merriman has extensive entrepreneurship experience. She and her husband owned and operated a printing and publishing business for 24 years in Pierre. Merriman was instrumental in the planning, designing, and development of the multi-state business. She organized, managed and directed the staff of nearly 40 in marketing, publishing and distribution.

Most recently Merriman served as the communications and development director for Catholic Social Services. She also has experience as a sales manager for two regional publications and as a coordinator of social services for Dorsett Regional Senior Care. Merriman, who is originally from the Sioux Falls area, earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern State University.

“The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity was fortunate to have an incredible number of outstanding candidates apply for the critical position of director,” John Brown, SBA South Dakota district director, says. “We look forward to working with Helen Merriman, who brings a wealth of talent and background to the position.”

Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business and Technology at BHSU, notes that Merriman has experience leading both non-profit and for-profit entities.

“Helen’s background and skill set will enable her to effectively address the goals set forth in this grant that include training and business counseling for individuals seeking to own and manage their own businesses,” Romkema says. “The SD CEO will serve as another bridge to economic growth in South Dakota—by creating and fostering opportunities for those interested in business ownership.”

The SD CEO office is located in Woodburn Hall room 211 on the BHSU campus. Merriman and, program assistant, Chris Coolidge will have office hours from 8 a.m.-until 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more information or to schedule an appointment call SD CEO at 642-6311. Merriman begins her position on Nov. 23 and an official opening for the SD CEO is scheduled for Dec. 15.

This Center is an additional resource to business people and will complement the work of the already existing Center for Business, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism (CBET), under the leadership of Barb Zwetzig. CBET works with the tourism industry, entrepreneurs, and established business owners who are looking for new avenues of growth.

The SD CEO is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

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