Florida Small Business Development Center Network Receives National Accreditation
FORT MYERS, FL - On July 21, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network was notified by the National Accreditation Committee that the statewide network of 31 SBDC offices, including the Florida Gulf Coast University SBDC, met all conditions and criteria for full accreditation by the national accrediting agency, the Association of Small Business Development Centers.
The four-member ASBDC Accreditation Review Team visited the lead center, all eight regional SBDCs and some satellite centers in Florida in spring 2004 and prepared a written report based on their assessments for the national accrediting committee. The Accreditation Committee met and voted July 19.
Chair of the ASBDC Certification Committee Darryl Mleynek said, "I want to congratulate you and your staff for achieving this important milestone. I know considerable effort over a long period of time has gone into attaining the goal of accreditation, and this occurred during an extraordinary period during which Florida was subjected to numerous hurricanes. You and your staff have achieved much during the process and the Florida SBDC is commended for its success."
Accreditation is important for the centers and imperative for the statewide network, as it drives improvements in management systems and processes. The ASBDC test of uniform high quality delivery systems used by the accreditation team ensures that the federal government, host institutions and the state - the funding agencies - fund programs that have demonstrated effectiveness, efficiency and success in consulting with and training small business entrepreneurs, the business and non-business managers, that make up Florida's economic backbone.
Among the noteworthy programs, processes and accomplishments of the FSBDCN observed during the review were the highly competent and enthusiastic staff; Florida developed, internet-based, Management Information Systems used to track counseling, training outreach and economic impact; Counselor Certification Program that all business analysts must complete before counseling clients; Florida Professional Development Program that includes a statewide Professional Development Conference; Florida's strategic planning process used to develop the current five-year strategic plan; and the ISO 9001 certification achieved by the Regional SBDC at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
State director Jerry Cartwright said, "This is a long but extremely important process and it is imperative for our funding and the Network's movement toward achieving a world-class delivery system for small business counseling and training needs. The internal review that supported the report was a positive experience and will serve as a roadmap for continuous improvement of the SBDC Network."
For more information, contact Florida SBDC director of Marketing and Development Diane Barlar at firstname.lastname@example.org.