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2017-01-27 / Top 100 People

Barry Surma


Saint Francis University - Small Business Development Center

After graduating from Saint Francis in 1982, Barry Surma spent 10 years working at the Small Business Development Center until he left to join Mountain Research, a company started with the assistance of the SBDC.

In 1994 Surma accepted a position with Altoona Enterprises (now Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation) and earned his MBA from Saint Francis that same year. He worked at ABCD Corp. for 22 years in various capacities and earned his designation as a certified economic developer (CEcD) from the International Economic Development Council in 2012. In January of 2016, Surma accepted the position as director of the Saint Francis University SBDC and began reestablishing working relationships with various economic development organizations in the region.

Barry and his wife Rue Ann and have been life-long residents. Their daughter is currently enrolled at Saint Francis University while their son is a member of his high school marching band.

When Surma first started his career in economic development, he did not realize the benefits of being part of a larger ecosystem in which you undertake just one responsibility.

“Early in my career, I thought it was important to be considered as a type of one stop shop for people and businesses seeking assistance. However, my career has taught me that there is no single point of contact in economic development. Likewise, there is no wrong door of entry. In today’s environment economic development organizations need to work collaboratively and avoid duplication of programs in order to maximize our limited resources and better serve the needs of our clients,” he said.

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