The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida was named Region of the Year at the Florida SBDC Network’s annual conference last month. The Florida SBDC at UWF was honored out of nine regional host partner universities and colleges.

Throughout 2018, the Florida SBDC at UWF delivered more than 15,000 consulting hours to Florida businesses, resulting in $554 million in client sales increases, 5,072 jobs created or saved and more than $31 million in capital infusion.

The Florida SBDC at UWF also played a critical role in helping small business owners recover following Hurricane Michael, helping businesses between Apalachicola and Panama City Beach to Marianna and Chipley secure over $21 million in Emergency Bridge Loans, many of which were approved in less than a week.

“Although we do not need awards to know that the work we do matters, it is certainly nice to be recognized by your peers for your hard work,” said Kelly Massey, regional director with the Florida SBDC at UWF. “Our staff spent the better part of three months last year working away from our homes and families to work in tents and buses, assisting with disaster recovery loans. Several worked long hours, including over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays.”

Adam McCloskey, associate director of the Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach SBDC offices, was also recognized as the Florida State Star for his leadership, performance and endless hours in the relief effort, especially related to the processing of the bridge loans. In addition, McCloskey reached 115 percent of his consulting hours goal for 2018, accounted for $4.45 million in capital access for clients and launched the successful "Ask Adam" series in Navarre.

“Rarely has an individual award been such a group accomplishment,” McCloskey said. “I may have won the award but I have my teammates to thank for their great work."

The Florida SBDC at UWF will now be submitted for the U.S. Small Business Administration's National Award for SBDC Region of the year.