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Winning in Business

State Names SBDC at FAU No. 1 in Supporting Small Businesses

The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) recently earned the 2021 Florida SBDC Region of the Year award. Created by the Florida SBDC network, this award recognizes regions for their outstanding services in supporting small businesses.

As an extension of the Small Business Administration, the Florida SBDC at FAU, helps small- and medium-size businesses gain access to capital, secure government contracts, generate sales revenue for their business and increase jobs for businesses in underserved communities — and a pandemic didn’t slow it down.

“Our clients and strategic partners are the real winners,” said Sandra D. Marín Ruiz, Ed.D., regional director of the SBDC at FAU. “We only hope to further our mission of helping businesses start, grow and succeed in Broward and Palm Beach County.”

Marín Ruiz joined the network in 2020, just as a pandemic struck the world. But this didn’t deter her. Rather, she said it motivated her to collaborate with partners in the community to help more businesses who experienced the global shutdown.

The team pivoted offering no-cost business consulting online, and assisting companies with applying for government loans.

“We were the sounding board for many who had to shut their doors, reopen and adjust to a new world,” she said.

The Florida SBDC at FAU has also earned a few other awards under Marín Ruiz’s leadership. Their most recent award was a $500,000 grant from the Citi Foundation to support their continued work in providing technical assistance to small businesses owned by people of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the unprecedented health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When disasters strike or in times of uncertainty, I know I can count on the dedication of the team here at SBDC and the services offered to our clients,” she said. “We are unwavering and unparalleled.”

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