Florida SBDC at USF Announces 2016 Regional Performance Award Winners

TAMPA (May 12, 2017) The Florida SBDC at University of South Florida announced its 2016 performance award winners today at its Port Tampa Bay Building location in Tampa. Winners are now eligible for Florida SBDC Network state awards. State award winners will be announced at the Networks Annual Conference, held in St. Augustine in June.

Selma CanasSelma Canas Employee of the Year

Selma Canas, CGBP, is the Florida SBDC at USF International Trade Specialist. In 2016, Selma worked very diligently every week, every month, every quarter to ensure that she would meet all of her goals, Eileen Rodriguez, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at USF, said.
She has been a dedicated member of the Florida SBDC Network team for seven years; three at University of North Florida and four at University of South Florida. She continuously worked with her stakeholders, Enterprise Florida and the Department of Commerce, to create a significant pipeline of clients in 2016. She had a backlog of Export Marketing Plan (EMP) clients in 2016. In order to better service her clients, she has enlisted her peers throughout the Florida SBDC Network to assist her in preparing and delivering EMPs in the USF region. Her EMP reports garnered $30,000 in program income in 2016.
In 2016, Canas participated on the Tampa Bay Export Alliance trade mission to the Dominican Republic. She worked closely with the Tampa Bay Export Alliance promoting the event and ensuring that her clients took full advantage of the trade mission. Thanks to her efforts, 11 of the 19 companies traveling on this mission were Florida SBDC at USF clients.

Janette BlancoJanette Blanco Consultant of the Year

Janette Blanco is a Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County business consultant who is not only thorough but extremely conscience about her work and the clients that she serves. Janette is a trusted and well respected consultant within the market that she serves and is always willing to go the extra mile for her clients as well as for the team, Rodriguez said. Knowledgeable in many areas, her primary expertise is within the construction and contracting area.
Her skills and knowledge enable her to work with clients to navigate contract bids for which she has been successful in helping her clients obtain almost $3 million in contract awards.
Blanco is a leader among her teammates and is often the go-to person for client assistance among the team. She understands and demonstrates the core values of the Florida SBDC Network and leads the team in outreach efforts.

Yolanda CowartYolanda Cowart Consultant of the Year

Yolanda Cowart, a business consultant with the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development, continued to maintain a high level of excellence in 2016. Her work with the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development has resulted in significant return-on-investment, yielding high economic impact and outcomes, Rodriguez said.
Cowart effectively leverages resources to help her businesses remain competitive, to keep her clients overhead low, and to develop successful client relationships.
She utilized appropriate research databases to assist her clients with business plans, marketing plans, market growth, and financial management practices. This resulted in significant time spent with 54 business clients, and included four business assessments and various reports that she completed to assist clients with business expansion, government contracting and in developing strategies to compete in the federal marketplace.

Pinellas County Economic DevelopmentPinellas County Economic Development – Outstanding Resource Partner

Pinellas County Government has been an invaluable partner to the Florida SBDC USF region for the past six years. The Centers connectivity to economic development initiatives has resulted in new business solution strategies for our clients that allows the FSBDC at USF to exceed service and performance expectations that results in significant return-on-investment and enhanced consulting services, long after their initial needs have been met, Rodriguez said.
In addition to providing space, four full-time equivalent positions and administrative and marketing support for our staff members, PCED has embraced the Florida SBDC Network team as paramount members of the economic development team.
In fact, their commitment to the Florida SBDC Network was demonstrated once again in 2016, when they invested $38,896 in renovation cost to create an in-house state of the art training room for the Center. Not only does PCED put its money in our program, but their staff respects and are dedicated to furthering the mission of the Florida SBDC Network, she added.

BankUnited BankUnited Volunteer of the Year

In 2016, BankUnited provided the Florida SBDC at USF with $10,000. The grand total over the years is $30,000 to the Florida SDBC at USF and over $10,000 for the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development. In addition to their financial support, BankUnited personnel have supported the Florida SBDC at USF by volunteering as speakers. In the Manatee-Sarasota region, Peter Anderson, VP/Branch Manager has participated in the QuickStart Series since 2015. In Tampa, Nicole Russo, AVP, Branch Sales Leader, has served on the Emergency Bridge Loan Committee since 2015, but the bank has been part of the Committee since 2014. Lastly, Dennis Drolet volunteered as speaker for the Financing Your Business class in 2016 for the Florida SBDC at USF. He also volunteered with the Florida SBDC at PCED twice. In addition, he has provided guidance and training to the Florida SBDC at PCED on financial options for clients.

Warner UniversityWarner University Student Project of the Year

The Warner University undergraduate student team included students with multiple business majors participating in a capstone class. The cross-functional Family Elder Law student team effectively worked with the client to develop a strategic analysis providing a clear action plan based on the clients needs, Carl Hadden, Florida SBDC at USF Assistant Director, said. The student team applied the knowledge gained throughout their entire business program and demonstrated competence in their approach in addressing the specific needs that were communicated by the client. The team took great ownership of the project by clearly understanding the clients vision and conducting extensive research in order to provide the client with a comprehensive report.