Ecosystem Builder Interview with Sheri McGuire of Longwood University

You can’t control an entrepreneurial ecosystem. It has its own form, its own life. It’s the magic that happens when certain things and people come together. On episode 10 of the  Entrepreneurship on the RISE podcast, one of those people, Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Executive Director Sheri McGuire, joins us to talk about the ever-evolving nature of rural ecosystem building and how a strong ecosystem benefits not only entrepreneurs and business-owners, but entire communities as well.

In this episode of Entrepreneurship on the RISE Podcast, Jacob and Lauren, joined by their guest Sheri McGuire, share the parallels between entrepreneurial ecosystem building and Sheri’s interest in music and baking. They also discuss the importance of in-person connection and relationship-building, and how the future of ecosystem building hinges on the ability to leverage both in-person and virtual relationships. 

Sheri McGuire headshot April 2022

Sheri McGuire

Associate Vice President, Longwood University Office of Community & Economic Development  | Executive Director, Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) | Farmville, VA

In this episode, we sat down with Sheri McGuire, who is the Associate Vice President, Longwood University Office of Community & Economic Development and the Executive Director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Based in Farmville, VA, Sheri’s role serves a large geographic region that aligns with the RISE Collaborative service area and also includes Petersburg and Emporia, Virginia.

Key Takeaways

  • How the pandemic allowed them to serve more small businesses through virtual training.
  • Navigating the different needs based on the location of the business since there’s such a large geography in Southern Virginia 
  • Linking and leveraging assets as one of the key skills in strategic doing.
  • How the shift on outcomes has evolved over the years.
  • Some ways that work in bringing awareness to the support available to small businesses.
  • The right mix of ingredients that are needed for connections that will make an impact in rural communities.
  • Advice for other ecosystem builders and how to use your personality to bring your unique power to the table. 
  • Ways in which organizations like SBDC can help close the gap in racial injustice by offering support and a seat for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
Longwood logo

About the Longwood Office of Community & Economic Development

Longwood University’s Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) puts a network of connections to work for the benefit of both the school and the broader community. The OCED includes the Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  To accomplish its mission, OCED facilitates conversations among campus and community leaders, challenging both to identify, or even create, projects that strengthen the business and economic development communities throughout Longwood University’s service area. Learn more at

Longwood SBDC Virginia logo

About the Longwood SBDC

As a small business resource for 30 years, the Longwood Small Business Development Center’s (LSBDC) core mission is to provide education, consulting, and economic research to support potential and existing small business owners throughout Southern Virginia. The SBDC program at Longwood University is positioned as an economic development outreach program under the umbrella of the Office of Community and Economic Development. The center’s effectiveness is measured in the success of our clients. Results are measured in terms of client capital investment and jobs created. Learn more and sign up for free business advising at