Employees, Partners Recognized for Efforts to Help Small Businesses Recover from Hurricane Irma
Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce the winners of its Hurricane Irma Disaster Recovery Awards.
The awards, which were presented June 13 in Fort Lauderdale as part of the network's annual conference, recognized outstanding employees and partners for their efforts to help small businesses rebuild and recover following Hurricane Irma.
Following the storm, Governor Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan and Citrus Emergency Loan programs, which provided short-term, interest-free loans to eligible small businesses and citrus growers, respectively. As part of the loan process, the Florida SBDC Network partnered with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC) to help small businesses through the application process, as well as in identifying and securing long-term recovery resources, such as federal disaster assistance.
Together, DEO, FFCFC, and the Florida SBDC Network closed 828 Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans and 58 Citrus Emergency Loans totaling $34.8 million.
In addressing over 175 staff, partners, and sponsors, Florida SBDC Network CEO Michael Myhre commended the efforts of network staff and partners.
“Hurricane Irma was a catastrophic storm that caused widespread damage and destruction to Florida’s small businesses and citrus growers,” Myhre said. “When Hurricane Irma hit, our team answered the call to assist businesses and growers who suffered physical and economic injury following the storm. I am honored to present the Valor, Resource, and Community Partner Awards in recognition of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices our team and partners made in the aftermath of the storm.”
The Valor Award was presented to 10 employees in recognition of their heroism, dedication, and selfless efforts to help small business following the storm. In addition to a medal and a monetary award courtesy of FFCFC and the Florida Small Business Development Foundation, the following Valor Award winners were presented a personalized letter of recognition from Florida Governor Rick Scott:
- Suzanne Specht, assistant director, Florida SBDC at FGCU
- Tom Kindred, regional director, Florida SBDC at IRSC
- Brian Van Hook, associate director, Florida SBDC at FIU
- Kyle King, consultant, Florida SBDC at USF
- Marge Cirillo, consultant, Florida SBDC at UNF
- Chery Lynch, consultant, Florida SBDC at UNF
- Keith Bowers, regional director, Florida SBDC at FAMU
- Duane Hoversten, consultant, Florida SBDC at FGCU
- Kelly Penwell, director, Florida SBDC at FKCC; and
- Michael Noel, consultant, Florida SBDC at USF
In recognition of DEO, FFCFC, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s efforts to help small businesses following the storm, Myhre presented each with the Florida Resource Partner of the Year award.
Myhre also presented the network with an award and staff members with medals of honor in appreciation of their hard work and commitment.
Further, as part of the loan process, the Florida SBDC Network organized loan committees comprised of local bankers, who met weekly following the storm to approve or deny the loans. Committee members donated numerous hours in the months following the storm to ensure small businesses had the immediate capital necessary to make repairs and payroll, among other expenses.
During the ceremony, Myhre recognized the efforts of bridge loan committee members across the state.
“No organization can do it alone,” said Myhre. “It is my honor to recognize our many community partners for the support they provided us throughout our recovery efforts. Their partnership was invaluable and helped save thousands of businesses and jobs for our state’s families.”
To view pictures from the awards, please click here.
To learn more about the network’s Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, please click here.