TAMPA (May 11, 2023) – The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at University of South Florida (USF) announced its 2023 Performance Award and small business winners on May 10, during the 2023 Florida SBDC at USF Business Awards Celebration Luncheon. The event was held at USF’s Marshall Center. Performance award winners are now eligible for Florida SBDC Network state awards. State award winners will be announced at the Florida SBDC Network’s Annual Conference, held in Fort Lauderdale in August.
“We were thrilled to be able to recognize our employees and business owners in person, after having to take a hiatus due to COVID,” Carl Hadden, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF said. “We are proud to be a tireless supporter of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not a solitary activity. Entrepreneurs need the support system of the Florida SBDC at USF, bankers, attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, and the support of their family, friends, and community to thrive. We are blessed to be one of many contributors to the successes we celebrated today.”
Ambassador of the Year: Kristene Manning
Kris Manning’s commitment to excellence as the Florida SBDC at USF Fiscal and Business Manager enables the region to deliver on the Florida SBDC Network mission of “Providing businesses the expertise and resources to succeed” as well as the vision of “Creating a better Florida for all by helping businesses grow” by working closely with the regional director to manage the region’s finances ensuring seamless service delivery. Kris meets regularly with peers throughout the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business to find solutions to collective challenges while simultaneously sharing best practices. Manning’s expertise in her role directly impacts stakeholder return and value as well as commitment to excellence while indirectly helping the region deliver business needs and solutions contributing to the development and economic growth of our communities, all of which encompass the FSBDCN values. Kris goes above and beyond in her duties every day to make sure the Florida SBDC at USF is properly equipped to help businesses grow.
Performance Excellence Award: Gregory J. Manning
Greg Manning is a Florida SBDC at USF business consultant. Manning joined the Florida SBDC at USF team in August 2020, just three months into the COVID-19 pandemic. He came to us with a wealth of business knowledge, having owned 16 Hallmark stores throughout central and south Florida. Greg was tasked, in April 2022, with covering four counties in our 10-county region. Since these counties are very rural and spread across many miles, they would normally be covered by three consultants. Even with the added coverage area, Greg saw 332 unique clients and maintained his excellent satisfaction rate. Then, in October 2022, Greg worked three Hurricane Ian mobile Business Recovery Centers (BRC) across three counties in Lake Placid, Arcadia, and Wauchula, providing 160.25 hours of disaster capital access consulting to his clients. Manning served 47 BRC walk-ins and converted 85% of them into SBDC clients while accurately following BRC procedures by streamlining the process for clients in an already stressful time and allowing for timely entry of administrative data. Greg’s sense of responsibility and ownership, as well as his commitment to partners and the small business community goes far above and beyond expectations.
Resource Partner of the Year: USF Research Foundation Inc.
The USF Research Foundation Inc. (RF) has proven themselves to be a patient, persistent, passionate, problem-solving partner to the Florida SBDC at USF. In early-2021, SBDC leadership determined the center’s regional office needed to be downsized to meet the post-COVID workflow and budgetary constraints. SBDC engaged with the RF in April 2021 regarding office space at USF CONNECT. RF’s enthusiasm to attract the SBDC into the research park was evident from the initial meeting. The RF negotiated lease terms that addressed SBDC’s budget constraints, increased the improvement allowance in the lease agreement, and secured a $50,000 commitment from Florida High Tech Corridor to support the buildout of the SBDC office space. The accommodations provided by RF and the financial support of the Florida High Tech Corridor allowed the SBDC to enter a lease in January 2022. Amid a construction material supply chain crisis and labor shortages, RF’s project manager remained fully engaged with the SBDC and contractor during the buildout resulting in project completion on time and under budget. The RF continues to support the mission of the SBDC with sponsorship for events as well as prompt support for services requests, and general inquiries. With their continued financial support and advocacy, enthusiastic partners like the Research Foundation elevate the impact the Florida SBDC at USF has in the research park and throughout our ten-county region.
Daniel Dorian Rising Star Nominee
Daniel Dorian graduated from the University of South Florida in the spring of 2022 with a degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship. Shortly after graduation, he joined the team at Pinellas County Economic Development’s Office of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. In less than 1 year he has become an Indispensable part of the team at the Pinellas County Satellite Office for the Florida SBDC at USF. Based on his go-getter attitude, he was quickly given team leadership over all client intake and public interaction, and now acts as the point of contact for all client and citizen inquiries in the division. During his short service he has already revamped all public facing documents to improve understandability and to comply with FSBDC State branding standards. Working with Pinellas County’s Economic Development Marketing division, Dorian has revamped SBDC at Pinellas website and collateral materials and now maintains control of the inventory. Daniel has also taken leadership over the division’s workshop processes and scheduling system, proving that he is a rising star in all aspects.
Graduate Student Project of the Year: University of Tampa
University of Tampa student team included MBA graduate students who were all part of the Strategic Analysis Project (SAP) for family-owned, premier grass fed/grass finished cattle producer, Providence Cattle, where they developed a paper that analyzed the industry as well as the company and developed recommendations that aimed to improve the competitive position of Providence Cattle. The team visited the client’s location, in addition to holding multiple meetings throughout the semester. The team’s report concluded with three recommendations that Providence Cattle will implement to improve their brand awareness, create a niche customer base, and increase social responsibility as well as improve public relations. The client provided immediate feedback to the team sharing, “The presentation was so thorough and actionable. These are strategies we can actually use and implement. Thank you!!”
Undergraduate Student Project of the Year: Warner University
The Spring 2022 Warner University student team produced a Small Business Analysis for law firm Rignanese & Associates PLLC owned by Cynthia Rignanese. The students were challenged to go deeper than general information relating to the law industry and uncover relevant and actionable information for a firm specializing in elder law, estate planning, and real estate. The students prepared a thorough report that included a SWOT Analysis, Industry Analysis, Marketing Analysis, Financial Analysis, and Management Analysis. Rignanese was very impressed with the students and the recommendations they provided stating, “The Team did a thorough and professional job — from research to PowerPoint presentation. I was impressed by the data on not only the legal industry, but on my particular area of practice — estate planning for seniors in Central Florida. I am a numbers person, so when I received valuable data and input from the Team, I was pleasantly surprised. I ended up with useful information that will help my law firm to achieve its one- and five-year goals”.
Also recognized were the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) award winners. Winners included David Hahn, of Results Sales and Services, as the SBA South Florida District and State of Florida Veteran Business Owner of the Year, as well as Mark Clifton, of Spathe Systems, as the SBA South Florida District Minority Business Owner of the Year. The SBA also recognized Sunshine State Economic Development Corporation as the Top Certified Development Company and the Florida Business Development Corporation as the Top Community Advantage Lender.