Florida SBDC at UWF wins top state awards
The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida was named Region of the Year at the Florida SBDC Network’s annual conference on Tuesday, June 25. The Florida SBDC at UWF was honored out of nine regional host partner universities and colleges.
Throughout 2018, the Florida SBDC at UWF delivered more than 15,000 consulting hours to Florida businesses, resulting in $554 million in client sales increases, 5,072 jobs created or saved and more than $31 million in capital infusion.
The Florida SBDC at UWF also played a critical role in helping small business owners recover following Hurricane Michael, helping businesses between Apalachicola and Panama City Beach to Marianna and Chipley secure over $21 million in Emergency Bridge Loans, many of which were approved in less than a week.
“Although we do not need awards to know that the work we do matters, it is certainly nice to be recognized by your peers for your hard work,” said Kelly Massey, regional director with the Florida SBDC at UWF. “Our staff spent the better part of three months last year working away from our homes and families to work in tents and buses, assisting with disaster recovery loans. Several worked long hours, including over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays.”
The bridge loan program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, is a short-term, interest-free loan intended to help businesses bridge the gap until long-term assistance is available, such as insurance proceeds or federal assistance.
Adam McCloskey, associate director of the Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach SBDC offices was also recognized as the Florida State Star for his leadership, performance and endless hours in the relief effort, especially related to the processing of the bridge loans. In addition, McCloskey reached 115% of his consulting hours goal for 2018, accounted for $4.45 million in capital access for clients and launched the successful “Ask Adam” series in Navarre.
“Rarely has an individual award been such a group accomplishment,” McCloskey said. “I may have won the award but I have my teammates to thank for their great work.”
The Florida SBDC at UWF will now be submitted for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Award for SBDC Region of the year.
As part of a statewide service network of more than 40 centers, the Florida SBDC at UWF is based in the UWF College of Business and has helped aspiring and existing small business owners grow and succeed for more than 40 years. The Florida SBDC at UWF maintains offices in Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Milton, Navarre and Crestview serving Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Bay, Gulf and Calhoun counties.
The Florida SBDC has a network of partners and nine regional host universities including the University of West Florida, University of South Florida, Florida A&M University, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Indian River State College, Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University.
For more information on the Florida SBDC at UWF, visit sbdc.uwf.edu.