University of South Florida

Muma College of Business

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Johnny Crowder, founder and CEO of Cope Notes, was the keynote speaker.

Florida SBDC at USF announces 2023 regional performance award winners

TAMPA -- The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida announced its performance award and small business winners during the 2023 Florida SBDC at USF Business Awards Celebration Luncheon on May 10.

The event was held at USF’s Marshall Student Center. Performance award winners are now eligible for Florida SBDC Network state awards. State award winners will be announced at the network’s annual conference 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-19,” said Carl Hadden, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF. “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."

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Kris Manning wins the Ambassador of the Year award.

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 and vision by “providing businesses the expertise and resources to succeed” as well as “creating a better Florida for all by helping businesses grow.”

She works closely with the regional director to manage the region’s finances and to ensure seamless service delivery. She meets regularly with peers throughout USF’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. She goes above and beyond in her duties every day to ensure the Florida SBDC at USF is properly equipped to help businesses grow.

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Greg Manning receives the Performance Excellence Award.

Performance Excellence Award: Gregory J. Manning

Greg Manning is a Florida SBDC at USF business consultant. He joined the team in August 2020, just three months into the COVID-19 pandemic. He came to the SBDC with a wealth of business knowledge, having owned 16 Hallmark stores throughout central and south Florida.

He was tasked, in April 2022, with covering four counties in our 10-county region. Since these counties are rural and spread across many miles, they would normally be covered by three consultants. Even with the added coverage area, he saw 332 unique clients and maintained his excellent satisfaction rate.

Then, in October 2022, he worked three Hurricane Ian mobile Business Recovery Centers (BRC) across three counties in Lake Placid, Arcadia, and Wauchula, providing 160 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 procedures by streamlining the process for clients in an already stressful time and allowing for timely entry of administrative data. His sense of responsibility and ownership, as well as his commitment to partners and the small business community, goes far above and beyond expectations.

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The USF Research Foundation won the Resource Partner of the Year award.

Resource Partner of the Year: USF Research Foundation Inc.

The USF Research Foundation Inc. 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 foundation in April 2021 regarding office space at USF CONNECT. Their enthusiasm to attract the SBDC into the research park was evident from the initial meeting. The accommodations provided by the foundation 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, the foundation's project manager remained fully engaged with the SBDC and contractor during the buildout resulting in project completion on time and under budget.

The foundation 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 10-county region.

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Daniel Dorian received the Regional Rising Star of the Year Award.

Regional Rising Star of the Year: Daniel Dorian

Daniel Dorian graduated from USF in spring 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 a 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 tenure 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. He has also taken leadership over the division’s workshop processes and scheduling system, proving that he is a rising star in all aspects.

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