Sault Ste. Marie resident Joshua Billington of the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been promoted to assistant state director of strategic innovation to oversee client training, cybersecurity awareness, export assistance services and market research.
The winner of the 2019 SBDC Michigan State Star seeks to ensure businesses thrive throughout his city and state.
“I love the Sault,” said Billington. “The Sault has so much potential. When I moved, I saw thousands of dollars that no one was picking up. You see this beautiful old architecture falling apart. You don’t starve the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
Billington will use available federal and state grant money to help invest in the housing market and small businesses.
His motivations to make great change began right after 1992 highschool graduation.
He joined the U.S. Navy, embarking on a USS Kitty Hawk CV63 Western Pacific cruise to Hong Kong and Japan. During the two years served, he trained over 200 people.
Upon discharge, Billington used his GI Bill to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration from North Park University in 1998. He went on to complete his MBA at Cornerstone, emphasizing in leadership, global business, entrepreneurship and strategy.
From 1999 to 2001, Billington worked as a bank analyst for National City Bank in Grand Rapids. He switched positions in 2001 to act as the operations manager for Five Star Real Estate. He broke into the publishing industry shortly thereafter to become an operations coordinator for Zondernav.
Once Billington obtained all he could, he started the Sozo Media Group.
He worked with Grammy Award winning artists on audio books, e-books, and graphic novels. He facilitated ebook conversion projects and produced 13 audio books.
“From there, I needed health insurance,” said Billington. “I realized it was hard being a business owner. I received the job of business consultant at SBDC.”
Billington moved to the EUP to serve as the region’s consultant for Chippewa, Luce and Mackinaw counties. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, he was assigned the SBDC’s new managing director of pandemic response role.
Billionton developed and launched programs to ensure the best COVID response possible by managing multi-million dollar federal and state grants to support Michigan small businesses (SBA).
He managed funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the economic stimulus bill passed by the 116th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020.
He fulfilled his duties to the highest merit until last month’s promotion to assistant state director of innovation, operation and strategy.
“The SBDC’s mission is to help small businesses succeed, and Joshua’s new role is pivotal in ensuring that we deliver on that promise,” said J.D. Collins, State Director of Michigan SBDC. “We need to find innovative ways to reach more clients more efficiently and effectively, and Joshua’s most recent experience responding to the changing needs of small businesses during the pandemic makes him a perfect fit.”
According to a Michigan SBDC press release, its agency offers free consultations, business education, market research and technology commercialization to new and existing businesses.
Small business owners may access SBDC services by visiting www.michigansbdc.org.