Florida SBDC at USF: Polk County

The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at University of South Florida, assists existing and emerging businesses in Polk county, through no-cost confidential business consulting, information, and low-cost training. Whether starting, buying, growing or selling a business, the Florida SBDC at USF has what entrepreneurs need to grow and succeed. Consultants can assist entrepreneurs in a variety of business areas, including: marketing, business certification, capital access, market diversification, developing strategic business plans, export services, and web optimization.

Lake Wales Administration BldgFlorida SBDC at Lake Wales Administration Building
201 W. Central Ave
Lake Wales, FL 33853
Phone: Field Office (863) 678-4182 ext. 227

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Meet the Consultants

  • Carl Hadden

    Assistant Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Polk County

    Specialty: Growth Acceleration

    Carl Hadden is a marketing specialist with experience in workforce development, sales, insurance, entrepreneurship and training. As general manager for a wireless phone retailer, Hadden directed the marketing, co-op advertising, purchasing, vendor relations, and human resources. He assisted in implementing a point of sales system for the wireless retailer to automate processes and minimize loss prevention. As a workforce professional, Hadden assisted McGee Auto Service & Tires to secure a partnership with the Polk County School District, which would allow mechanics to get additional training and resources to become ASE certified. He graduated from Leadership Lake Wales Class 13 in 2009. Hadden has an associate’s degree in business administration from Polk State College and a bachelor’s in marketing management from Webber International University. He is also a Florida Certified Workforce Professional.

  • Mitch Lairmore

    Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa

    Specialty: International Trade, New Technologies, Business Planning, SBIR/STTR, Marketing

    Mitch Lairmore comes to the Florida SBDC at USF with a strong background in business development, strategic planning and market research. He has extensive experience with product development teams and small companies in the commercialization of technology. For the past eight years he has worked as a staff consultant, providing commercialization assistance to small companies in the SBIR/STTR program for a very diverse range of technology development projects sponsored by the US Navy, Department of Energy (DoE), National Science Foundation, Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security. Prior to that time, he formed a sole proprietor and was a subcontractor to a prime contractor for the National Institute of Health, DoE and Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier in his career, he served as a business development director at Eastman Kodak, where his responsibilities included creating strategic plans for new products, development of intellectual property licensing plans and collaboration with partners. Lairmore was a co-founder of a venture team that progressed to the development phase within the Kodak New Opportunity Development initiative. He was marketing manager for a multimillion dollar data storage product development effort and secured corporate partners and three funding rounds. In addition, he served as a board member for a portfolio company of Kodak Ventures Group that transitioned to profitability. Lairmore holds a Certified Global Business Professional certification through National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators, is a Certified LivePlan Expert Advisor, and Strategic Management Performance Systems certified. He has assisted small businesses in exporting efforts by helping them identify and develop business relationships with international partners. He also assists clients in developing credible business plans for startup or growth. He holds an MBA from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa.