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Ft. Walton Beach SBDC Ribbon Cutting At New Location

Bob Reyes

The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida in Ft. Walton Beach has relocated to a new facility.The new location provides the organization a better connection to the businesses they serve.

The Ft. Walton Beach SBDC is now located just one mile off the UWF Emerald Coast Campus at 815 Beal Parkway NW. Suite A.

Tom Hermanson is an Associate Director for the FWB SBDC and has been with the organization for nineteen years. He’s very excited about the new location and that they’ve found a permanent place to call home, “It’s very convenient, very close to the corner here of Racetrack and Beal. So it’s very easy for folks to find us and to come visit us.”

Hermanson says although it was beneficial to previously be housed on the UWF Emerald Coast Campus and closer to university resources such as the library, the new location better suits the needs of their clients, “Our role is really outreach. We are serving that outreach role of the university and the College of Business. And so, we’re happy to be off campus, in the community, so we’re very close to our small business customers.”

The Florida SBDC, which began as a pilot program over 30 years ago, 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 has expanded its reach and now serves 10 counties, including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton, with full service offices in Pensacola, FWB, and Panama City.

The SBDC has branched out by offering government contracting services. Bob Reyes is the Government Procurement Specialist at the Ft. Walton Beach SBDC. He works for a subset of the organization known as the Procurement Technical Assistance Center or PTAC, “My job is to try to connect established businesses with potential government opportunities, contracts, subcontracts, things of that sort. Educate them on how to look for those opportunities, how to market their services or products and how to set themselves up for that next phase.”

Reyes says recognizing how to make contacts in the government sector, whether locally or at the federal level can seem like a difficult task at first. Especially since new rules and regulations are introduced frequently. But, Reyes says having someone on your side to help navigate through new policy as well as determining if those policies will affect your business is exactly what the SBDC is there to do, “And there are people out there that want to only sell to local governments; they don’t want to deal with the federal government because they believe it’s too cumbersome. And, there are some cumbersome parts to it, but it’s much like riding that bicycle, once you finally take the training wheels off it’s not that bad. But, at first can look daunting you want to stay on that tricycle. That’s the reason we’re here, to help them get past what looks daunting, but really isn’t.”

Small businesses make up a vast majority of commerce in Florida’s Panhandle, over 90%. As a result of Florida’s SBDC activities in 2014 almost 43,000 jobs were created, retained and or saved statewide with nearly 5,000 in this region alone.

The SBDC custom tailors their services to meet each business’s needs with a concept plan that impacts every new business venture and will continue to provide entrepreneurs with one-on-one consulting, management training, and assistance with writing a business plan for new and growing companies at their new location, which adjoins the Coastal Bank and Trust building. Again, Tom Hermanson, “We’re recognizing our new location but we’re also recognizing small businesses. So, as well as having our speakers, Mike Myhre, Director of the SBDC, Dr. Tim O’Keefe, from the College of Business, and of course our Director from our local region Kelly Massey. And, I’m sure we’ll have some of our clients show up to participate in our celebration.”

The Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening for the new location in Ft. Walton Beach is open to the public and begins at noon on Friday, July 24th.

More information on services and workshops available at sbdc.uwf.edu

Email: Fwbsbdc@uwf.edu

Face Book at Facebook.com/sbdc@uwf.

FWB SBDC-New Number (850) 586-7809