The City of Crestview has experienced steady growth in recent years, thanks in large part, to the addition of the Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the Army’s 7th Special Forces. The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida and Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce are looking to build on that, by officially joining forces to help foster business growth in Okaloosa County’s north end.
SBDC at UWF recently hosted a breakfast at the Crestview Community Center, where Dr. Judy Bense the president of UWF and Alicia Booker, the president of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce signed an agreement strengthening the bond between the two organizations,"What we need here is people focused on making Northwest Florida better. That’s what the small business development center does."
Dr. Bense says the University is pleased to serve as host for the statewide SBDC and delighted to partner with the Chamber to support entrepreneurial progress in North Okaloosa County. "The partnership between the Crestview Chamber of Commerce and the University of West Florida Small Business Development Center really represents the biggest push that higher education and the university in particular is focused on now, which is the employability of our graduates and of the growing businesses, community engagement and sharing what we do at the university and connecting it to the community. And in this instance, the business community."
The Florida (SBDC) is a non-profit network of college and university-based centers that help prospective and existing small businesses grow and prosper in - what has become - a competitive “global” market. The SBDC at UWF serves Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties and maintains full service offices in Pensacola and FWB. Kelly Massey, SBDC Regional Director says the partnership will publicize what the centers can do to help the economy. "People think small business they think family owned business, that’s not what we mean by that. What we mean is that typically if you have under 500 employees then we can help you. I’ve worked with large manufacturing companies build new facilities, multimillion dollar projects, we can help you open a laundry mat, we can do everything in-between."
While the SBDC at UWF has previously worked with the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce, the agreement signed last week establishes a more formal partnership. Chamber President Alicia Booker says it will be a great enhancement to what her organization is already doing to promote economic development in the community,"We have new people moving to the area all the time and they may not be aware of the resources that we have available here. I think this partnership allows us to benefit each other if you will so that we can make people aware of the resources that are right at their finger tips right here."
According to District 3 State Rep. Doug Broxson, Florida is one of the leading states in conveying that small business is the key to the economy - not the government, "And we have reaffirmed to every business from Pensacola to Key West that we’re going to step down as a government and allow you to grow your business to see changes in our economy that no other state has seen. "
The Crestview Chamber has been helping businesses in the area for over 50 years, and with this partnership, the SBDC will now be able to provide entrepreneurs in the Crestview community with one-on-one consulting, management training, and assistance with writing a business plan for new and growing companies in their newest office located within the Chamber. The next workshop offered in Crestview is Bussiness Accounting and Budgeting using Quickbooks software and is scheduled for August 13th.