Business & Economy

Florida SBDC at UWF opens new Fort Walton Beach location

The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida hosted a grand opening for its new, permanent Fort Walton Beach location on Friday.

The SBDC at UWF provides tools, training and resources to help entrepreneurs in every stage of business and all industry sectors grow and succeed. As part of a statewide service network of more than 40 centers, the SBDC at UWF is based in the UWF College of Business and now maintains offices in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach. A new office in Panama City is also scheduled to open later this year.

“A key component of the UWF College of Business’ mission is engaging the Northwest Florida community in economic development,” said Dr. W. Timothy O’Keefe, dean of the College of Business. “Starting and growing small businesses are key to job growth in our region. An estimated four out of five new jobs in Florida will be created by small businesses. Our SBDC at UWF provides front line assistance in helping businesses in our area grow and succeed. Opening locations like the Beal Parkway office helps assure accessibility to the clients who can benefit most from our services. This new location and our continued outreach location in the Crestview Chamber of Commerce underscores our view of the importance of Okaloosa County in the economic development in our region.”

Tom Hermanson, associate director, will lead the Fort Walton Beach office. This office is also the home of Sharon Triplett, growth business consultant; Angela Grant, pre-venture consultant and office specialist; and Bob Reyes, government contracting specialist. The office is conveniently located on Beal Parkway one mile away from the UWF Emerald Coast campus.

“We are happy to have our new Fort Walton Beach office next to Coastal Bank and Trust at 815 Beal Parkway NW, Suite A,” said Kelly Massey, director of the SBDC at UWF. “Previously we were located on the UWF Emerald Coast campus, but this move allows us to be more convenient to the business community. Our clients often need lending services, and we now have an enhanced referral system in place with lenders. We still provide training and service to the UWF students on campus and many of our classes are offered there; however this new office puts us directly into the path of serving businesses in the Fort Walton Beach area, which is our primary purpose.”

Training opportunities at the Fort Walton Beach office are currently available in start-up assistance, business basics, managing businesses and government contracting. For more information visit


About the University of West Florida: Founded in 1963, the University of West Florida is a vibrant, distinctive institution of higher learning with undergraduate, graduate and targeted research programs. With multiple locations in Northwest Florida, the University serves a student population of more than 12,000. Dedicated to helping students realize their full potential, UWF favors small class sizes with quality teacher-scholars who deliver personalized, innovative, hands-on learning and leadership opportunities.

About the Florida SBDC: The Florida SBDC at the UWF is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a non-profit network of college and university-based centers providing entrepreneurs with high quality one-on-one consulting, management training and vital information they need to grow and prosper in a complex and competitive global environment. Based in the University of West Florida College of Business, the SBDC at UWF has helped prospective and existing small business owners form, grow and sustain successful businesses for more than 30 years. Serving Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Bay and Calhoun counties, the SBDC at UWF maintains full service offices in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.