Beaver Street Enterprise Center-Helping Small Businesses Survive and Thrive | SBDC UNF

Beaver Street Enterprise Center-Helping Small Businesses Survive and Thrive


The Beaver Street Enterprise Center (BSEC), a FreshMinistries initiative, hosted a panel workshop Thursday, January 15, to help local small businesses find ways to survive and thrive in today’s economy.

The “Thriving in a New Economy” workshop gave over 30 small business owners and entrepreneurs in the community the opportunity to hear advice and tips from a multi-faceted panel of prominent small business figures, including one of BSEC’s own tenants, Shelley Ramkissoon from M&S Supplies of Jax, Inc.

“Almost every day we’re hearing about big businesses shutting their doors,” said Jackie Perry, director of the BSEC. “It’s making small businesses nervous, and startups are thinking twice about starting up. We want people to know that if you’re smart about it, there are still plenty of opportunities for success.”

Cathy Hagan, a Certified Business Analyst (CBA) at the UNF Small Business Development Center (SBDC), brought what she called an “outside-looking-in” approach to the workshop.

“We want to arm them with information to help them make good decisions,” said Hagan.

Hagan offered practical advice and reassuring data to the attendees.

“During recessions, small businesses and startups actually increase,” said Hagan. “As the economy changes, there are disruptions in the way business needs to be done. The smaller you are, the easier and faster you can adjust to these disruptions.”

Other panel members gave reassuring advice, too.

“There are always opportunities out there because needs are always there,” said Fredrick Blum from Augustine Asset Management, another panel member. “The only thing isthese needs change when the economy changes.”

Blum added that with a new Presidential administration comes new tax law, an economic stimulus package and infrastructure improvements – all big opportunities for small businesses.

“Keep in mind there are a lot of people here [at the BSEC] who can point you in the right direction,” added Blum when asked about taking advantage of free and cheap small business resources.

Joe Whitaker of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission offered more succinct advice: “Plan your work; work your plan.”

The attendees at the workshop ranged from ex-financial-giant employees from Washington Mutual and Citigroup to entrepreneurs in the construction and entertainment industries.

One of the attendees was Chuck Lowe, president of Spectrum Installations. Although this was his third workshop of this type at the BSEC, he said he gets a little more out of the workshop each time he attends.

“It made me feel better, listening to others’ struggles,” said Lowe. “And seeing others succeeding in this economy gives me a boost.”

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