Florida SBDC Network State Office (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, recently announced the recipients of its annual staff awards.
The awards, which were presented at the network’s annual conference August 1 in Fort Lauderdale, are the highest recognition bestowed by the network to staff members, partners, and volunteers.
“I am honored to recognize this year’s winners for their outstanding work to help our state’s small businesses launch, grow and thrive,” said Greg Britton, state director of the Florida SBDC Network. “These individuals work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of small business owners and their communities. We congratulate this year’s winners and are grateful for the opportunity to share their inspiring work.”
The Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida for their outstanding work to help small businesses in Central Florida. In 2022, the region delivered more than 20,000 hours of assistance to help more than 2,600 clients. As a result, they helped client businesses secure more than $103 million in government contracts, start 160 new businesses, secure more than $66 million in capital and supported more than 10,000 jobs.
The Florida State Star Award was presented to Elizabeth Goldbach from the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Florida State Star award is the highest accolade achievable by employees, recognizing extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network. This year’s award was presented to Goldbach for her contributions to the network and above and beyond efforts to help small businesses recover following Hurricane Ian.
The Florida Alan Cowart Pioneer Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County for their Self-Employment Workshop Program. This program was launched to provide in-depth business training to aspiring business owners who are either unemployed or underemployed.
The Florida Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Theresa Davis from the Florida SBDC at UCF for the integral role she played in the region’s transition to SalesForce.
The State Office Distinguished Service Award was presented to Amy Newburn, Research and Data Analyst Director, for her outstanding involvement and contributions to the adoption and rollout of the network's new CRM system, Salesforce.
The Florida Rising Star Award was presented to John Emsing from the Florida SBDC at UWF. The award, which honors employees under the age of 35 with less than five years of service with the network, was presented to John for his leadership, dedication to moving the center’s mission forward, and willingness to support his team.
The Florida Team Spirit Award was presented to Florida SBDC at IRSC for their SmallBiz Florida Podcast. This team was honored for their statewide efforts to promote and highlight Florida’s small business community, entrepreneurship and business assistance resources.
The network presented two Florida Student Project of the Year Awards, which recognize student team projects from an SBDC region that created the most significant experiential learning opportunity for the student(s) while providing SBDC client value. The undergraduate student project winner was the Florida SBDC at USF / Warner University - Rignanese & Associates LLC. The graduate student project winner was the Florida SBDC at UCF / Trapline Pest Solutions.
The Florida Resource Partner of the Year Award was presented to the Florida Chamber of Commerce for their advocacy of Florida’s small businesses and continued support of the Florida SBDC Network.
The Florida Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Erin Scott, Vice President and Business Banker II for Ameris Bank. Erin was selected for her outstanding outreach, partnership, and commitment to the Florida SBDC at UNF region and small business community.
The network also recognized staff in three categories of lifetime achievement awards. These awards were presented to staff for their outstanding capital access, new business starts, and government contracting impact during their tenure with the network:
Capital Access Lifetime Achievement Awardee:
- Bill Burnham, Florida SBDC at USF - $50M +
Laura Subel Government Contracting Lifetime Achievement Awardees:
- Cathy Hagan, Florida SBDC at UNF - $75M +
- Marie Myszkier, Florida SBDC at UNF - $50M +
- Aubri Shauger-Haley, Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development - $50M +
New Business Starts Lifetime Achievement Awardees:
- Julio Estremera, Florida SBDC at FGCU - 300 +
- Frederic Bonneau, Florida SBDC at FIU - 200 +
- Charles Wheeler, Florida SBDC at UCF - 200 +
- Marge Cirillo, Florida SBDC at UNF - 200 +
- Elly Membreno, Florida SBDC at UCF - 125 +
- Rafael E M Pratts, Florida SBDC at UCF - 125 +
- Suzanne Specht, Florida SBDC at FGCU - 75 +
- Cathy Hagan, Florida SBDC at UNF - 75 +
- Eileen Rodriguez, Florida SBDC at USF - 75 +
- Mike Chung, Florida SBDC at UNF - 75 +
- George Gadson, Florida SBDC at FAU - 75 +
- Bill Burnham, Florida SBDC at USF - 75 +
- Philip Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF - 75 +
Regional and Service Year Awards are also presented to exemplary employees for making significant contributions to their respective SBDC regions and for achieving service year milestones. Service Year Awardees:
- Cathy Hagan, Florida SBDC at UNF - 30 Years
- Teri Takahashi, Florida SBDC at FAU - 30 Years
- Eunice Choi, Florida SBDC at UCF - 25 Years
- Jairo Batista, Florida SBDC at UCF - 15 Years
This year’s sponsors and partners were Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, Florida Power & Light, FloridaCommerce/SelectFlorida, United Midwest Savings Bank, Florida Economic Development Council, Thryv, Florida Business Exchange, CareerSource Florida, Suncoast Credit Union, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Square, the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, FloridaMakes, The Able Trust, Florida Trend and The Business Journals.