Rebuilding Communities


The Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Atlantic University remembers one year of the pandemic and its help assisting businesses.

Rebuilding Communities

The Florida SBDC at FAU Assist Businesses Through the Pandemic

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) remains a pillar in the community — ensuring more than 3,000 businesses were kept alive.

When the world was forced into isolation, many small businesses didn’t know how they would survive, but the Florida SBDC at FAU was ready to help. As one of the Small Business Administration's largest business assistance programs, resources and updates were delivered directly to their team of lead consultants who answered questions and offered multiple options for clients.

“We had to act fast, offering online, video and over the phone consultations. Anything we could to reach our businesses and make sure they made it through such a difficult period,” said Sandra Marin, regional director of the Florida SBDC at FAU. And as more businesses reopen and we begin to have hope that the pandemic will come to a complete end, will still keep this same level of dedication to ensure small and medium businesses know they are not alone.

Here’s a look at some local enterprises that were impacted from assistance during the global shutdown.

Freshwater and Son

Mark Freshwater started Freshwater and Son's Electric almost 10 years ago, with himself and his van. Over the years, the company grew. They now have an office building, a staff of more than 40 contractors and an office staff of 10. They offer a variety of services, specializing in custom-built luxury homes, including routine maintenance of landscape lighting, generators and remodeling of homes.

When the pandemic hit, and his doors closed, the Florida SBDC at FAU stepped in to assist him with the loan process to make sure his business would reopen.

"When it came to this crisis, SBDC has provided guidance the entire time. We are very grateful for the help and support of SBDC as we navigate through this ever-changing time," Freshwater said. "With the added anxiety, the uncertainty and the emotional exhaustion, it has been a godsend to have SBDC with us to help navigate the disaster recovery loan process and as well as updates from the CDC on best business practices. Having the SBDC on our side has been the one solid to rest on."

Bernard A. Shuster, MD

Early last year Bernard A. Shuster, MD, FACS, a third-generation plastic surgeon, felt the effects of the lockdown immediately. Complying with the orders from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Broward County, Shuster stopped all of his elective medical procedures.

His nearly two-decade-old practice in Hollywood, Fla., came to a halt of unknown duration, affecting not only him, but also his employees.

"I contacted the SBDC March 19 and was referred to a consultant, Parbatee Chang," Shuster said. "She got back to me so fast – not seven to 10 days, but within 24 hours. Her response was lightning fast. She walked me through the application process, making sure that every 't' was crossed and every 'i' was dotted. She sent me a checklist to make sure we covered everything. Thanks to Parbatee, and her equally efficient associate Anil Chang, my application was approved, and the funds received in less than two weeks."

Designing for a New World

Small business owner Amanda Perna was grateful that she had an expert to turn to when her stores, House of Perna and Neon Bohemians, closed temporarily.

As an owner of the fashion brands in Delray Beach, Perna was hit hard by the stay-at-home order. There was no longer a demand for splashy clothing. But she knew she could get help from Jacqueline Ramirez, a consultant from the Florida SBDC at FAU.

“It was a little overwhelming to try to figure out who was eligible for what” Perna said. Soon after with those funds, Perna has been able to restore jobs for most of her employees, adding a new collection of designer face masks.

“SBDC is a great resource for all of us,” she said. “Like an old friend you can call when you need to, but hopefully you don’t need to all the time.”

Primrose School of Miramar

For more than four years, the Primrose School of Miramar provided almost 200 children with a vital early education and childcare experience in a private pre-school setting.

Led by franchise owners Poorab and Lakshmi Kapadia, the research-based learning curriculum inspires children to think creatively, compassionately and resourcefully. The couple, alongside a team of 30 trained employees, teach children ages infants through kindergarteners.

When the Kapadias decided to close the preschool at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, like the rest of the world, they were extremely concerned about their children and families, and their employees.

"Out of all of the help we looked for, Parbatee was the most streamlined, effective and timely. It was like throwing darts in the dark until she came along," Poorab said. "It was an amazing experience thanks to Parbatee. She treated us like family, giving us guidance the entire way. We look forward to working with her more and we know our business will be ready once we are back to full capacity."

If you would like more information, please contact us at

Did you know?

Tomorrow marks the fifth annual SBDC Day, a national, collective proclamation of the impact the Florida SBDC at FAU, and other SBDCs nationwide, have had on small businesses. Created to assist small- and medium-sized businesses with no-cost specialized consulting services, the Florida SBDC at FAU has served Broward and Palm Beach counties for more than 40 years.

Consider this, statewide in 2020, the Florida SBDC network helped small businesses:

  • Generate $4.4 billion in sales
  • Impact 37,966 jobs
  • Access $385.8 million in capital

To learn more about SBDC Day, and how the Florida SBDC at FAU has helped thousands of clients with the success of their business, visit or sign your business up for no-cost consulting services.