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Ronnie Westbrook, ECCC Center Director, retires after 27 years of serving small businesses.

After 27 years of service as the director of the East Central Community College branch of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, Ronnie Westbrook has announced his retirement.  Westbrook joined our organization in the autumn of 1994 and has been a valuable member of the team ever since.

Westbrook, a Mississippi native, worked first as a commercial banker outside of the state for 18 years.  When he and his wife moved back home, the MS-SBDC was establishing a new branch at East Central Community College.

“It was an opportunity to move back closer to family,” Westbrook said.

Over his 27-year tenure, he has assisted hundreds of businesses in central Mississippi.  From River Birch Estate Assisted Living, to floral shop The Eagle’s Nest, and to McGivney Tire Services, Westbrook has had a profound impact on the state’s small business community.

Westbrook noted the need for both honesty and empathy in his line of work, and that even when you want someone to succeed, everyone needs to hear how “the cow eats the cabbage” once in a while.

“Something I’ve always prided myself on was that I was understanding of their business desire… but that I also gave them honest and thoughtful counseling on their business aspirations,” Westbrook said.

The very line he’s walked is something he admits he’ll miss once he leaves.  Westbrook recounted that getting to interact with others was the highlight of his nearly three decades with the SBDC.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie of the directors and office staff,” Westbrook said.  “But most of all, I’ll miss the interaction of visiting with clients.  That was always the apex of this job: being of assistance to individuals.”

In his retirement, Westbrook looks forward to spending more time with his wife and daughters as he crosses off some “bucket list items.”