State star 

profile image of Terri Urbanek.Terri Urbanek will be recognized as the Wisconsin State Star at the national conference of Small Business Development Centers. Urbanek earned an undergraduate degree in accountancy from UWL in 1997 and a master of business administration degree from Upper Iowa University in 2006.

Urbanek receives national recognition for her support of the region’s entrepreneurs

Terri Urbanek, of UW-La Crosse’s Small Business Development Center, is receiving state and national recognition for the proactive and valuable support she provides to regional business clients.

Urbanek, an SBDC consultant and outreach specialist, received the 2017 SBDC State Star Award from the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center.

Each state selects one award winner each year based on criteria such as impact on clients, innovative approach, team spirit and willingness to go the extra mile. Urbanek received the award Friday, June 16 at the annual Wisconsin SBDC conference. She will also be recognized at the national conference for SBDCs Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Anne Hlavacka, director of the UWL’s Small Business Development Center, nominated Urbanek. She was selected after a state-wide vote among SBDC professionals.

Urbanek, a 1997 alumna of UWL, primarily provides business planning and financial management support to SBDC clients. She also supports the planning, promotion and management of programs at the SBDC and UWL Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Hlavacka describes Urbanek’s effort as “extraordinary.” One of Urbanek’s clients says she gave them “exceptional guidance and support” that boosted their confidence in unfamiliar business situations.

“Terri consistently went above and beyond for us throughout the entire process . . . when one door closed, Terri was already on the next plan,” writes the client.

Prior to her work with the SBDC, Urbanek spent 12 years as a manager for multiple small businesses, ten years as director of finance for a non-profit and 15 years as vice president of finance and internal auditor for a credit union.

When Urbanek started as an ad hoc business counselor for the SBDC in 2011, she found satisfaction in helping up-and-coming entrepreneurs decide, “Yes, I can really do this!”

She became a full-time SBDC business counselor in July 2013. Urbanek says it is gratifying to walk the streets of downtown La Crosse or nearby cities and find business owner after business owner who she has been able to help launch a sustainable business.

Urbanek also shares her financial expertise with local economic development organizations and supports several area nonprofits, including New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers. She also speaks at community events on small business matters and entrepreneurship.

Urbanek says community service is something she learned from her family. In addition to being an entrepreneur, her father, Don Walcker, gave a lot of volunteer hours to the development of Hokah, Minnesota’s downtown revitalization.

“It was the way I was brought up,” says Urbanek. “My dad was a big believer in working with the community and doing whatever you could to make that community successful.”

Urbanek also supports UWL faculty and students to apply academic knowledge to real life business experiences. In recent years, she has helped more than 30 businesses and organizations connect with students. One of the students commented:

“Ms. Urbanek’s training and guidance have been incredible. I have learned so much about the technical aspects of accounting and finance, but her ability to connect those skills with real world situations has made me so much more aware. Her guidance is certain to make my professional career more successful.”