• Jake Droge joined the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in June 2020 and currently serves as the Business Development Specialist and Veteran Business Development Officer for the South Dakota District Office. He is responsible for promoting small business resources across South Dakota including access to capital, counseling and training, government contracting, and disaster relief.

    Prior to joining the SBA, Mr. Droge served as the Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau for eastern South Dakota. He also previously worked in the financial industry for approximately 20 years serving in various roles such as Loss Prevention, Compliance and Quality Control, and most recently served as Branch Manager assisting seniors with the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program. He is a U.S. Army veteran, having served with the South Dakota National Guard as a combat medic. He deployed with the Vermillion Medical Unit to the Middle East in 2003-04.

    Originally from Stickney, SD, Mr. Droge is a Class of 1998 graduate of the University of South Dakota, where he earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. He also holds a certification as a Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional from National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

  • Associate Andy Grocott is a 10-year military veteran who has dealt with various multi-million-dollar negotiations for military contracts and has done business in three continents. This coupled with his legal knowledge and MBA makes him a force to be reckoned with as your business ally. His abilities do not stop with business acumen. Andy has reviewed and administered over $1Billion in foreign and domestic irrevocable and revocable trusts. This experience has given him the awareness to help his clients with drafting simple or complex trusts and wills and allows him to cast light on areas of planning that others may not have thought of previously.

    Andy is eager to work with business leaders, developers, trust companies, and families to help them define where they are presently and achieve what outcomes they desire in the future through their business or estate plans. He will help his clients build a well-paved roadmap and give them insight to the pros and cons of each circumstance. In the end he hopes to leave his clients with a robust plan of attack to conquer the best outcome possible.

    Andy’s business acumen has been exercised for more than a decade with his past experience procuring and administering multi-million-dollar government contracts, commodities, services, and construction projects for the Air Force. This insight allows him to highlight various strengths a business has and showcase them in the best light possible and in a way where the Government takes notice.

    Andy has experienced numerous industry sectors and has had first-hand understanding of how many different industries strive and execute continuous improvement as well as lean strategies. This diverse exposure to cross-sections of industries and Andy’s legal knowledge makes him a versatile business partner that can negotiate, advise, and draft documents for business leaders that will help make them industry leaders.

    Andy became an attorney to not only help business leaders, but new and mature families that want to ensure their loved ones are taken care of for years to come. Legacies come in various packages whether it is generational wealth, entrepreneurial success, or the like. His purpose for becoming an attorney is to build the legacy his client envisions; and to alleviate any stressors that may stand in its way. Whether his clients want to build a business or plan for their family’s future, his work will make their plan a reality.

    Andy received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota. He received a Master of Business Administration/Leadership from Liberty University and Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences from South Dakota State University.

  • Craig Bailey is a Minnesota farm boy who worked his way through degrees in toolmaking (Anoka Technical College), psychology (University of Minnesota), business management (University of St. Thomas), and education (University of South Dakota). Currently, Bailey is the cofounder and president of Novum Nano (2019) and has been awarded eight AFWERX awards in nanotechnology-based research. He is an Air Force veteran, past president of Western Dakota Technical College, has a number of publications & patents in nanotechnology, won the 2020 South Dakota Governors’ Giant Vision award, and TechConnect innovation awards for “Novel Nano Oil Additive Reduces Friction and Increases Engine Efficiency” (2021) and “Memristor – Novel Nano Memory Device” (2022).

    Bailey serves on several nonprofit boards, including The United Way of the Black Hills (immediate past president), the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame (current president), the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce (current vice-president) and the South Dakota Air & Space Foundation.

    Bailey lives in Rapid City, has five adult children, four grandchildren, and enjoys riding his motorcycles through the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

  • As the SBIR Program Director, I have led and supported numerous small business innovation research programs across various industries. With a deep understanding of the SBIR program and its unique requirements, I am skilled in guiding small businesses through securing funding and successfully managing their projects.

    My proficiency in program management, proposal development, and strategic planning has empowered me to collaborate effectively with teams, crafting robust proposals that precisely align with the specific needs of their target agencies. This adaptability, coupled with my collaborative approach with small business owners, technical experts, and government stakeholders, enables me to devise comprehensive and effective research strategies that foster innovation and drive success.

    As an advocate for the small business community, I provide support and resources that help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. I am passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in the SBIR program and believe every entrepreneur deserves a chance to succeed. With a commitment to excellence and a passion for innovation, I am confident in my ability to help small businesses achieve their goals and advance the frontiers of scientific discovery.

  • I worked as a Carpenter in Local 256, 400, and 444. Then I got the opportunity to open my own business while working on the Con Agra World Headquarters in Omaha NE. I identified a niche market in the industry to stabilize my annual volume and got into the SBA's 8a Business Development Program. I worked through the 9 year program, and saw the positives and the negatives. I then became a Private Consultant trying to help Business Owners maximize their journey through the Federal Development Market and worked with 9 Different Tribal For Profit Entities and several different individually owned Service providers until I retired.

    A friend called me and said he was writing a grant for the Nebraska Indian Community College to form a native Procurement and Technical Assistance Center. He wanted to know if I would be interested in being a part of this new PTAC. I came out of retirement when I was given the job as the Program Manager. I am working very hard in trying to structure a client base that will support its membership through networking and identifying opportunity as a whole, not going after everything individually. I am working to create Real Change in Indian Country.

  • Prior to joining NADC, Abigail Omdahl developed an extensive background in operations management working for over ten years as a multi-unit manager in the restaurant and retail industries within notable brands such as Wal-Mart, Dairy Queen, Starbucks and Applebee’s. She then pivoted into government contracting, working 3 years in government and provider relations at a large prime Medicare contractor. Now with NADC APEX as a procurement specialist for the past two years, recently taking over as program manager and loves sharing all that she has learned working in the private and government sectors with her clients and watching them grow.

  • Sarah Hughes serves as the Chief of the Staff of the CHIPS Metrology Program, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce. She previously worked at NIST in the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division, where her work was recognized with the George Uriano Award, an award given for outstanding achievements by NIST staff in building or strengthening NIST extramural programs, with emphasis on fostering U.S. competitiveness and business excellence. Prior to working at NIST, Sarah supported entrepreneurs, small businesses, and innovation programs at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for five years in many different roles within Colorado and Washington, DC. Sarah first started her federal public service as Presidential Management Fellow, and has a Master of Public Affairs degree from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), now the O'Neill School, at Indiana University.

  • Cortnee Jensen is the Interim CEO of the Northern Front Autonomous Systems Engine and the Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at the University of North Dakota (UND). Cortnee previously served as the Director of Strategy and Transformation for the State of North Dakota Department of Commerce, through which she founded and operated the ND Global Engagement Office.

    In her initial position with the Department of Commerce, Cortnee managed economic development efforts in the aerospace/UAS and technology sectors and managed collaborative Intellectual Property commercialization efforts between the State and the North Dakota University System.

    Prior to her move to North Dakota, Cortnee worked for more than a decade in the non-profit sector, focusing on strategic planning, cross-national networking, identifying and creating novel revenue streams and raising critical funds.

  • Melissa Carl is the Director, Business Development, Career and Member Services at IEEE-USA, where she is in charge of IEEE-USA conferences like the Innovation, Workforce, and Research Conference (IWRC) events. Prior to IEEE-USA, she worked at ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) for over twenty years, serving in a multitude of roles including as Director of Public Affairs and Director of Diversity and Volunteer Training. She also worked at the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES). She began her career in Washington, D.C. interning for her hometown Congressman and then working for the House Science Committee. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and received her bachelor of science degree in biology. She also has a masters in public administration (non-profit management focus) from George Mason University.

  • Originally from Durban, South Africa, Garth Wadsworth came to the United States after being recruited by the South Dakota State University Swim Team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography and GIS from SDSU and then a master’s in city planning from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. As Elevate Rapid City’s Senior Public Policy Director, Garth works with community stakeholders to plan for strategic growth and quality of life in the region.

    When he is not helping businesses with permitting and programs, Garth enjoys rock climbing, swimming in Pactola, or enjoying other outdoor activities with his wife Kelli and their two rescue dogs, June and Emma.