Florida SBDC Network Clients, Nominees Win SBA Awards

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce that 13 small business clients and nominees have won awards for their outstanding performance, advocacy, and economic contributions from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) during the 2020 National Small Business Week virtual event September 22-24. As part of National Small Business Week, the SBA annually recognizes small business owners, entrepreneurs, and advocates from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The celebration commenced with the presentation of the National Small Business Award Winners. Ryan D. Carter, owner of Scotlynn USA Division, Inc., a transportation and logistics provider specializing in hauling time-sensitive refrigerated produce, and a client of the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), was recognized as the first runner-up for the 2020 National Small Business Person of the Year for exponential growth.

Nick Nicholas, Owner/Technical Director of Maitland-based Genesis Water Technologies (GWT), and client of the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (UCF), was honored as the National Exporter of the Year for the company’s extraordinary impact in providing access to safe drinking water around the world. Today, GWT’s export business makes up 40 percent of the company’s total sales, serving municipalities and industrial clients in 43 countries, and supports 100 employees.

Clients and nominees of the Florida SBDC Network recognized as national, regional, state, and district-level award winners are:

Small Business Person of the Year
National First Runner-Up, State of Florida, and South District Winner
Ryan D. Carter, Owner, Scotlynn USA Division, Inc., Fort Myers
Client of the Florida SBDC at FGCU

North Florida District Winner
Sarah Blake, President, Elipsis Engineering and Consulting, LLC, Winter Garden
Client of the Florida SBDC at UCF

Small Business Exporter of the Year
National, Regional, State of Florida, and North Florida District Winner
Nick Nicholas, Owner/Technical Director, Genesis Water Technologies, Maitland
Client of the Florida SBDC at UCF

Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
Regional Winner
Princess Ousley, President and CEO, EBS Leaders, Tallahassee
Client of the Florida SBDC at Florida A&M University (FAMU)

Young Entrepreneur Small Business Person of the Year
State of Florida and South Florida District Winner
Ongun Kocabas, Owner, Egea Food, LLC, Miami
Client of the Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU)

Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year
North Florida District Winner
Mary Jane Culhane, Co-Owner, Culhane’s Irish Pub, Jacksonville
Client of the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida (UNF)

South Florida District Winner
Stacie Miller, Owner, SenCommunications, Inc., Tampa
Client of the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida (USF)

Minority-Owned Small Business Person of the Year
North Florida District Winner
Viv Helwig, President, Vested Metals International, LLC, Saint Augustine
Client of the Florida SBDC at UNF

South Florida District Winner
Manny Wong, Owner, Fullei Fresh, Miami
Client of the Florida SBDC at FIU

Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year
North Florida District Winner
John Burns, President and CEO, Eagle 6 Technology Services, Orlando
Client of the Florida SBDC at UCF

South Florida District Winner
Jacquin Gilchrist, Owner, The Gilchrist Law Firm, Coral Gables
Client of the Florida SBDC at FIU

Community Partner of the Year
North Florida District Winner
Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office, Milton
Nominated by the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida (UWF)

Small Business Advocate of the Year
North Florida District Winner
Tillery Durbin, Manager of Business Services, 121 Financial Credit Union, Jacksonville
Nominated by the Florida SBDC at UNF

“We are thrilled to recognize the accomplishments of our clients and advocates,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, Chief Operating Officer of the Florida SBDC Network. “The National Small Business Week Awards are one of the most distinguished in the country, and we are honored that so many of our clients were recognized for their outstanding contributions that bolster the local and state economic well-being. It is especially impressive that they achieved these successes in the unprecedented and challenging environment created by a global pandemic.”

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of the country’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The Florida SBDC Network joins the national celebration to recognize winners and showcase the role Florida’s more than 2.5 million small businesses play in the state’s economy by hosting the following events:

  • Small Business Week Virtual Awards Celebration: Florida SBDCs at FIU, FGCU, and USF, in conjunction with the U.S. SBA South Florida District office, recognized Florida’s small business leaders, champions, and top lenders from Tampa to Miami at a virtual event on September 24.
  • 28th Annual Small Business Week Virtual Celebration: Florida SBDCs at UNF, UWF, FAMU, and UCF, in conjunction with the U.S. SBA North Florida District office, will honor Florida’s small business leaders, champions, and top lenders from Pensacola to Orlando at a virtual event on October 9.

To learn more about National Small Business Week, please visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

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