Florida SBDC Network Announces Performance Excellence Awards

Employees, Partners Recognized for Efforts in Support of Florida’s Small Businesses

TAMPA, FL – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Performance Excellence Awards. The awards, which were presented June 25 in Orlando as part of the network’s annual conference, recognized top personnel, volunteers, and partners for their contributions to the network’s mission of helping the state’s small businesses grow and succeed.

“At the Florida SBDC Network, we believe in creating unimaginable possibilities for small businesses, while also creating economic prosperity for our state,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “Congratulations to our award winners and service year award recipients, who work tirelessly to ensure our state’s entrepreneurs and small business owners have the resources and expertise needed to find success.”

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Florida SBDC Network Announces Performance Excellence Awards

Pictured: Yanina Rosario, left, accepts the Florida Student Project of the Year award at the Florida SBDC Network Annual Conference, with Grace Prosthetics representative, Tony Culver.

The network awarded the Florida Student Project of the Year Award to the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida in recognition of the region’s work with University of Tampa students. The student team provided New Port Richey-based Grace Prosthetic Fabrication, Inc. with an in-depth assessment to help the company streamline operations and plan for growth.

The Florida SBDC Region of the Year Award was presented to the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida for exceeding performance goals and the region’s exceptional work to help small businesses following Hurricane Michael. In partnership with the network and its state and federal partners, the Florida SBDC at UWF played a key role in helping small businesses across the Panhandle secure more than $21 million in short-term, interest-free Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans.

The Florida State Star Award was presented to Adam McCloskey, associate director of the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida, for his leadership and extraordinary efforts to help small businesses recover following Hurricane Michael. The State Star award, the highest accolade achievable by SBDC employees, recognizes extraordinary performers who have made strong contributions to their state network. As part of the award, McCloskey will be honored among State Star awardees from SBDCs across the country as part of the 39th Annual America’s SBDC Conference in September in Long Beach, Calif.

The Florida Employee of the Year Award was presented to Lorena Lozada, administrative assistant of the Florida SBDC at Florida International University for her exemplary financial and bilingual communication skills. Thanks to Lozada, the region has increased its reach to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.

The Florida Rising Star Award was presented to Kaitlyn Saavedra, a business consultant with the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida. The award, which honors employees under the age of 35 with less than five years of service with the network, was presented to Saavedra for her leadership and dedication to serving clients in Northeast Florida.

The Florida Team Spirit of the Year Award was presented to Debbie Lanford, international trade specialist for the Florida SBDC at Florida Atlantic University. The award, which recognizes one network professional for their collaborative attitude in helping the network achieve strategic initiatives, was presented to Lanford for her leadership in facilitating the network’s statewide international trade committee. As a testament to the team’s work, the Florida SBDC Network was awarded the Program Excellence Award from the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE).

The Florida Game Changer of the Year Award was presented to LaShaun Collier, business consultant with the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University, for her work to create a standard, holistic assessment of a new client.

The Florida Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Wayne F. Leland. Leland, who serves as managing partner of the Winter Park-based outsourced CFO firm Nperspective, has volunteered with the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida since 2007. As a dedicated and longtime volunteer advisor, Leland has donated 108 hours of pro-bono consulting services to small businesses across Central Florida.

The network awarded the Florida Outstanding Resource Partner of the Year Award to the Florida Economic Development Council for the organization’s membership on the network’s state advisory board. Additionally, FEDC was recognized for serving as an integral member in the network’s Partners in Prosperity initiative, which illustrates how the state’s economic and business development organizations work together to help small businesses succeed.

About the Florida SBDC Network:

For over forty years, 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. Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 624,331 hours of professional business consulting to 58,975 client businesses, resulting in 281,831 jobs impacted; $36.7 billion in sales generated; $2.7 billion in government contracts acquired; $1.6 billion in capital accessed; and 4,520 new businesses started. A statewide network of over 40 offices, 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 2016 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.