FGCU, UCF and UNF Win Awards at National Small Business Institute Conference

Students, Florida SBDC Regions Receive Top Honors for Consulting Work with Small Businesses

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce that three of its regional offices won top honors at the 41st annual National Small Business Institute® (SBI®) academic conference for their work with students. The SBI® Conference took place February 15-18 in San Diego, California.

“At the Florida SBDC Network, we are extremely proud of the work we do each year to provide experiential learning opportunities for students,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO and Network State Director of the Florida SBDC. “These opportunities through our regional SBDCs are a win-win-win. They provide our university partners real business cases for their students, help their students apply theory to practice, and provide our local small businesses with access to expertise and resources to solve real business challenges. Congratulations to our student teams and Florida SBDCs at FGCU, UCF and UNF on this prestigious recognition.”
Jill Kaufman (right), Florida SBDC at UCF Assistant Director and SBI Program Manager, accepts one of UCF's awards from Denise Cumberland, SBI VP of Research and Publications, and John Batchelor, SBI President

Jill Kaufman (right), Florida SBDC at UCF Assistant Director and SBI Program Manager, accepts one of UCF’s awards from Denise Cumberland, SBI VP of Research and Publications, and John Batchelor, SBI President

The Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (UCF) won two Student Consulting Project of the Year awards: second place in the Graduate Specialized category for consulting work with USA Shoe Company and third place in the Feasibility/Business Plan category for work with The Farm at Rockledge Gardens.

In cooperation with the Management Department at the UCF College of Business, the Florida SBDC at UCF sponsors the SBI® in Central Florida and manages the program locally. It recruits and evaluates small business clients for the program, lends Florida SBDC consultants as SBI® case supervisors and provides a range of guidance and support to the student teams.
In competition with MBA teams from across the country, former students and UCF graduates Jason Osorio, Gary Muzzonigro and Alex Hinkle developed an in-depth market assessment, competitive analysis, and contract implementation and scaling plan for USA Shoe Company, a client of the Florida SBDC at UCF that provides shoe repairs for the local entertainment industry. A second team of students comprised of Jessica Blickley, Ryan Eid and Michael Glazer worked with Florida SBDC at UCF client The Farm at Rockledge Gardens, one of the largest nurseries in eastern Florida. For the project, the team prepared a feasibility study and assessment of a proposed business expansion.

Florida SBDC at UCF Wins Second Place in the Graduated Specialized category at the SBI Conference for their work with USA Shoe Company

The Florida SBDC at UCF won second place in the Graduate Specialized category for consulting work with USA Shoe Company.

Additionally, the Florida SBDCs at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and University of North Florida (UNF) were awarded second and third place, respectfully, in the SBDC Best Practice category. The Wharton SBDC at the University of Pennsylvania was awarded first place in the category.

FGCU was awarded second place for its “Student and Small Business Readiness Program” presentation. Sponsored by Bank of America, the program addresses the critical skills gaps with student career readiness in a small business environment. Both students and small business owners learn behavioral and technical skills needed to be successful. Suzanne Specht, assistant director for the Florida SBDC at FGCU, presented the program at the event and accepted the award on the Florida SBDC at FGCU’s behalf.

UNF tied for third place for its “Best Practices in Virtual Consulting: Lessons from a Florida SBDC at UNF Partnership.” Janice Donaldson, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at UNF, and Dr. Lakshmi Goel, an associate professor of information systems at the UNF Coggin College of Business, presented best practices for experiential projects that involve partnerships such as those between SBDCs and Universities.

The SBI® is the premier organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and small business through field-based student consulting and local outreach. Its mission is to strengthen the small business/entrepreneurship sector of the free enterprise system.

For more information about the SBI Program, please visit http://smallbusinessinstitute.org.

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