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SBDC gets $50,000 grant to help businesses

Tampa, FL (February 13, 2013) — Local businesses with at least five employees and more than $500,000 in annual sales have a new opportunity to succeed, thanks to a grant received by the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Eileen Rodriguez, & Wells Fargo Regional President Carl Miller

At a press conference held by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn along with Wells Fargo on Monday morning, the SBDC was announced as one of six recipients of Wells Fargo's NeighborhoodLIFT grant program, which provides a collective $800,000 to community organizations to help support the housing marketing by offering down payment assistance, home revitalization and business assessments.

USF nominated the SBDC for the grant so the center can use the $50,000 grant to concentrate on the expansion of its Growth Acceleration Services in Tampa. The Growth Acceleration program provides emerging and growth-stage companies with no-cost consulting assessments and strategies to grow the business. The services include strategic plan development, assessing and accessing capital, determining market diversification tactics and shoring up financial practices and institutional relationships.

"Wells Fargo chose the Small Business Development Center as a recipient because its small business training and consulting helps entrepreneurs create the jobs needed in order for people to become homeowners," Wells Fargo Regional President Carl Miller said.

"Our research shows that second stage companies are producing the most jobs," said SBDC Regional Director Eileen Rodriguez. "The clients we advise with these services have five or more employees and bring in more than $500,000 or $1 million in annual sales."

Go Bulls!

Like its 1,200 counterparts operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration nationwide, USF's SBDC assists current and prospective business owners, offering no-cost consulting and low-cost training. At USF, the Small Business Development Center is supported by the Muma College of Business, which provides administrative and in-kind support. In addition, the business school provides $300,000 in annual funding.

"We are very proud of our SBDC and its effort to further job creation in our region," said Moez Limayem, dean of the Muma College of Business. "This grant will help the center foster small business development, spur economic growth, and strengthen companies that often end up hiring our students."

The SBDC's Growth Acceleration Services have helped clients like Tona Bell and Randy Rosenthal, owners of Ybor medical marketing agency Tricycle Studios. Bell and Rosenthal are long-term SBDC clients who decided in 2011 that they wanted to increase their business. But, before pursuing that decision, they once again turned to the SBDC to ensure the firm could handle the operational and management challenges associated with rapid growth. With the insight provided by the SBDC, Tricycle Studios has grown by 45 percent and is set to continue growing more than 30 percent each year.

Speaking in a residential neighborhood in Tampa Heights to announce the grants, Mayor Buckhorn said the LIFT initiative matters because families in low-income areas deserve the same quality of life as his family living in Davis Islands. The companies the SBDC provides advice to can help increase that quality of life.

"The success of this community depends on all of us succeeding, not just some of us succeeding," Buckhorn said. "Thank you to all of our partners who are going to make this happen."

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