Florida SBDC Network Celebrates 45th Anniversary

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) -The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year. 

The network’s anniversary theme “Decades dedicated to helping small businesses grow and succeed” reflects the Florida SBDC’s mission and celebrates the more than 1.4 million small businesses the network has helped since its inception.

“Our 45-year story is a testament to the hard work and support of our team, partners, and our stakeholders,” said Greg Britton, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network, “Thanks to our laser-focused assistance, generations of families have built legacies for themselves and created jobs for our state. This year we celebrate the mark we’ve made and look ahead to providing this integral support for decades to come.”

In 1972, Allan Cowart, a professor of management at the University of West Florida (UWF), founded UWF’s Resource Center for Small Business Services – a one-man operation that provided entrepreneurial services across Florida’s Panhandle. 

In 1976, Florida was designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as one of eight pilot University Business Development Center programs –now known as SBDCs– in the country, linking the resources of the federal, state, and local government with the resources of the state’s higher education system and private sector to help small businesses grow and succeed.

The Florida SBDC has since grown to become one of the largest SBDCs in the country – with over 40 offices spanning from Pensacola to Key West and more than 300 employees – providing consulting, training, and research to thousands of Florida’s entrepreneurs and small business owners annually. 

“UWF is proud to serve as the headquarters of the Florida SBDC Network,” said Dr. Martha D. Saunders, president of the University of West Florida. “Thanks to their efforts, more than 1.4 million small business owners have overcome obstacles, achieved their dreams and created jobs for our state.”

Celebration in 2021

The network kicked-off its anniversary celebration this week by hosting the Virtual Small Business Resiliency Conference, a no-cost event to help small businesses in Florida still navigating the impacts of the pandemic. 

Hosted in partnership with the Office of Senator Marco Rubio, the two-day conference featured keynote speakers Emily Ley, CEO of Simplified, and John Gilmore, former tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and President and CEO of Brandthumb, LLC. The conference also featured timely presentations, including human resource policies in a post-pandemic workplace, tips for starting a virtual business, digital marketing strategies to boost engagement and sales, and disaster preparedness in the time of COVID.

The network will celebrate its anniversary in 2021 by sharing stories of clients and staff. Small businesses, partners, and the greater community are invited to learn more about the network’s anniversary celebration and service offering by visiting www.FloridaSBDC.org/45.

About the Florida SBDC Network: 

The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy. In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 hours of professional business consulting to 12,535 client businesses, resulting in 37,966 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed; and 453 new businesses started.  With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

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