The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, which includes the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center and is Florida's statutorily designated principal provider of business assistance, has been awarded accreditation from the Association of America's SBDCs (ASBDC). The ASBDC Accreditation Committee announced its award of accreditation without conditions - the highest standard of award and most successful accreditation the network has achieved in its 40-year history - to the Florida SBDC on April 14.

"Accreditation without conditions is a significant achievement and testament to our leadership and staff for their unwavering focus and commitment to continuous improvement and performance excellence," said Michael W. Myhre, Florida SBDC CEO and Network State Director. "Accreditation is an important part of our commitment to ensure that the public investment we are entrusted with from our federal, state, and local partners continues to add value, create meaningful impact and generate strong returns for Florida's economy."

America's SBDC Accreditation is a continuous improvement assessment process conducted by trained accreditors who utilize a set of quality standards founded on the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Program developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The standards are used to assess and identify opportunities to improve program performance based on critical factors proven to drive organizational success. The accreditation standards examine six key organizational areas:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer and Stakeholder Focus
  4. Performance Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
  5. Workforce Focus
  6. Operations

America's SBDC Accreditation is mandated by the Small Business Act - the authorizing language for the national SBDC program. Each state SBDC program is required to achieve successful accreditation every five years to secure continued federal funding. No other federal or state-funded economic development program has an equivalent continuous improvement accreditation process. For this reason, the SBDC program was cited by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2013 during the 113th Congress as a best practice in its analysis of 52 federal entrepreneurial assistance programs.

This is the fourth time the Florida SBDC Network has been awarded accreditation, but the first time the network has achieved the distinction of accreditation without conditions. In this year's review, the network received commendations and best practices in the following areas:

Commendations:

  • The team commended the network for a well-aligned leadership system that has clearly resulted in measurable change over a short period of time. The system starts with a clear vision from the State Director and is supported by a strategic plan and leadership team to drive behavior, tied to clear performance expectations, delivered through a talented workforce, enhanced with clear communication through graphics and flow charts, and has a feedback loop of data analysis to support continuous improvement.
  • The team commended the Florida SBDC Network for providing a 360 review for each member of the leadership team to grow their leadership competencies and create a positive environment for workforce collaborations and communications.

Best Practices:

  • The Florida SBDC Network's Strategy Model, or "Bubble Chart," provides an easily digestible snapshot of how the network's segments, services, and expertise are aligned to achieve strategic goals.
  • The thorough branding guide and accompanying resources available on the network's internal intranet provide a robust framework that facilitates consistent brand identity, messaging, positioning, customer relations, and stakeholder relations. It is an important part of the vehicle that allows the network to achieve its strategic objectives.
  • The Network Innovation Creation Engagement (NICE) proposals provide an opportunity for anyone in the network to submit an idea for consideration in the network's strategic plan. The recognition and reward for those who submit proposals creates incentives for staff to generate ideas for continuous improvement.

Established in 1976, the Florida SBDC Network has more than 40 offices from Pensacola to Key West. The network provides consulting, training, and research services to help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and succeed. Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 401,475 hours of consulting to 45,502 client businesses, resulting in 217,849 jobs created, retained and saved; $29.3 billion in sales growth; $2.1 billion in government contract awards; $947.4 million in capital investments; and 3,857 new businesses started. 

The Florida SBDC Network is funded in part by the U.S. SBA, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the Network's designated headquarters. 

To learn more about the Florida SBDC, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org