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Press Release for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

UNF Awarded $1.6M to Support ScaleUp America Business Development Program

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida won a five-year contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration, totaling nearly $1.6 million to help fund a new program, ScaleUp America, designed to create jobs, increase sales and provide access to additional capital for business development.

The five-county region of Jacksonville is serviced by the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF. As a designated ScaleUp America community, one of only eight nationwide, the FSBDC at UNF and the Jacksonville metropolitan area will have a new support system to assist high-potential entrepreneurs and growth-oriented small business owners.

The FSBDC at UNF will administer ScaleUp North Florida and the independent program will deliver entrepreneurship education, management support, access to capital and connections to companies in business at least three years with between $150,000 and $500,000 in sales. More than 17,000 companies in the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area report annual sales in this range. Historically, these Stage 1 companies grow at a slower pace than new start-ups and Stage 2 companies, particularly in sales and job growth.

ScaleUp North Florida will focus on growth-oriented and high-potential business owners and assist them to scale their business; connect to available resources; access growth capital; lead their peers, employees and communities; expand their firms; undertake transformative change; and profit from the experience.

“A key component of ScaleUp North Florida will be delivery of an innovative entrepreneurial education customized to the needs of our Stage 1 companies,” said Janice Donaldson, UNF’s principle investigator on the project and regional director of the FSBDC at UNF. “Recognized experts will deliver 24 hours of proven, existing curriculum focused on strategic planning, financial management, human resource management, leadership, marketing and brand strategy development.”

Graduates of the educational component will then receive a comprehensive business assessment to determine next steps in achieving their growth goals.

“These next steps will include utilization of existing management and technical resource providers, introduction to lenders and investors and assistance with their pitches and access to peer and mentor expertise through CEO XChange and Advisory Board Councils,” said Donaldson, who credits the impressive entrepreneurial ecosystem already in place in North Florida with playing a key role in attracting SBA’s support for the UNF proposal.

Success will be measured in participant satisfaction and measurable economic impact to the area, including jobs created, sales increased, new markets identified, capital accessed and a healthier bottom line for participating firms. Recruitment of qualified firms will begin within 30 days, and up to 50 business owners will be accepted into the two entrepreneurship education programs scheduled to begin in early 2015.

Since 1976, the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF has helped more than 35,000 small businesses in an 18-county area. The FSBDC at UNF provides assistance through management advice and technical training with little to no-cost to potential, fledgling and/or well-established small business owners.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.