First National Bank of Omaha awarded the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) $40,000 to support its development of small businesses in the Omaha area. NBDC will use the funding to increase services that help entrepreneurs qualify for commercial loans. Pictured from left: Louis Pol, dean of the UNO College of Business Administration; Aretha Prodjinotho, director of the NBDC Omaha office; Robert Bernier, state director of NBDC; Alec Gorynski, senior director of community development at First National Bank; and Clint Sporhase, vice president of business banking at First National Bank.
Sara McMillan, NBDC consultant at Grand Island, was recognized by the Association of Small Business Development Centers as the 2014 State Star for Nebraska. She is shown at the presentation with NBDC State Director Bob Bernier. The award was made at the ASBDC Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Grand Island office is sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Sara began with NBDC as a student assistant at the UNK office. She has completed her Economic Development Finance Professional certification from the National Development Council and has obtained the CVA, CEPA, and CBPA credentials in business valuation and business transition planning.
NBDC State Director Bob Bernier (left) is congratulated by UNO Chancellor John Christensen for 40 years of service to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Bernier joined the University Relations Department at UNO in 1974. In 1979 he became state director of the Nebraska Business Development Center.
Bernier is the longest serving state director of a small business development center program in the country. He held leadership positions in the Association of Small Business Development Centers, including president in 1990. He started the ASBDC national office in 1989 and oversaw its transfer to a Washington, DC location in 1996.
Bernier earned his Ph.D. in public administration and his MBA in finance from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He earned the BA in journalism from Kent State University. His academic research focuses on the process of economic development, particularly small business development.