Florida SBDC at FGCU (Fort Myers, Fla.) – Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) announced the winners of the 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur of Southwest Florida Awards during an awards ceremony on Tuesday May 2, 2023, at Spanish Wells Country Club.
The FSBDC awards are held annually to recognize three Southwest Florida small businesses for their innovation, advocacy, and business growth. This year’s awardees include Distinguished Entrepreneur of Southwest Florida, Rob Whyte of Fort Myers Brewing Company; Innovator of the Year, Jeffrey Bonk of Architectural Metal Flashings; and Advocate of the Year, Malike Adigun of Curate Entertainment.
“It is imperative to acknowledge the tenacity and achievements of the 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur winners. Local economies rely on small businesses for employment opportunities and enhanced community well-being, making their accomplishments vital to our area’s prosperity,” said Dorian Zwierewicz, FL SBDC at FGCU Regional Director.
The awards ceremony was made possible through the generous support of the Hallmark Sponsor of 11 years, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co, P.A.
Other sponsors include Silver Sponsor Suncoast Credit Union, Media Sponsor Gulfshore Business, Bronze Sponsor Veedor Holdings LLC, Bronze Sponsor Porto Fino Dental, and VIP Networking Reception Sponsor Veradata.
Previous winners of the three awards include Norman Love of Norman Love Confections in 2012, Pam Oakes of Pam’s Motor City in 2013, Felix Lluberes of Position Logic in 2014, Gary K. Mart of Global Tech LED in 2015, Chris Spiro of Spiro and Associates in 2016, Dr. Aurora Badia of Florida Skin Center in 2017, Scott Fischer of Scott Fischer Enterprises in 2018, Ryan Carter of Scotlynn Transport LLC in 2019, Bill Duabmann of My Shower Door/D3 Glass in 2020/2021, and Michael Peterman of Veradata in 2022.
About the Florida SBDC Network:
For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy. In 2021, the Florida SBDC Network delivered more than 157,000 hours of consulting to more than 18,000 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing over half a billion in capital, securing more than $380 million in government contracts, impacting 28,930 jobs, increasing sales by over $4 billion, and creating 778 new businesses.
With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.