It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Joyce Krech, retired director of the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SV SBDC). Over a stellar career that included 22 years with the Small Business Development Center, Joyce was a beloved mentor to many small business owners, offering guidance, inspiration, and encouragement at every step along the small business journey. Her insights and professionalism led to many successful economic development programs and small business accomplishments throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

As a leader, Joyce’s enthusiasm and sincerity were a significant example to us all. She was proud of being a lifelong “Valley Girl,” earning her BA at Bridgewater College and MA at James Madison University (JMU). Throughout her career, Joyce worked tirelessly to teach, develop, and advocate for the Shenandoah Valley business community. Joyce’s early career positions included teaching business, accounting, and computer classes at Dominion College, doing bookkeeping for small businesses, assisting with special projects, serving on committees at the Non-Profit Institute, and contributing to many other local and regional small business initiatives.

Joyce started at the SV SBDC as a part-time administrative assistant and rose through the ranks to Business Advisor, Assistant Director, and then Director in 2011. She was steadfastly inspired by and dedicated to the businesses and associates she served. Joyce often expressed how fun and rewarding it was to work with SBDC clients, the SV SBDC team, the Virginia SBDC network, state and local officials, and JMU students and staff. Those who knew her felt the same. Having Joyce in your corner as an advisor and friend was priceless.

“…we all loved and respected Joyce. She has a lot of friends in the Virginia SBDC network who will mourn her loss.” –Jody Keenan, State Director, Virginia SBDC Network

“Those of us who worked closely with Joyce over the years held her in the highest esteem for her knowledge, leadership, and loyalty to her team. She loved to see others succeed, and always did her utmost to teach, connect with, and support everyone she encountered. Joyce particularly enjoyed growing the SV SBDC staff, cared deeply about student learning at JMU, and exuded joy and excitement after meeting with a new SBDC client. Her presence and contributions will be sorely missed.” –Allison Dugan, Director, SV SBDC

A few of the successful SV SBDC programs Joyce was particularly proud of were:

What’s Cooking: The Business of Food – a competition for entrepreneurs operating or looking to operate a food-related business in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce – a coalition of local business organizations created to coordinate support and resources for area businesses in response to COVID-related challenges.

Small Business Resiliency Team – a program created in partnership with Laurel Ridge SBDC and supported by a GO Virginia grant with the goal of providing expanded business support services and technical assistance to area businesses in the wake of COVID-19 challenges.

Business Smarts – a long-running business education series held monthly in conjunction with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.

Business of Childcare – a special onboarding, training, and grant program designed to assist entrepreneurs running or desiring to open childcare services in the region.

Our deepest condolences go out to Joyce’s family and friends during this time. She will be remembered fondly for her generous, kind, and supportive spirit. Please visit Kyger Funeral Homes & Crematory for more information and to leave your own remembrances.