Florida Small Business Leadership Conference, Orlando June 26-28th.

Your editor just returned from the captioned event in Orlando at the J. W. Marriott Hotel.  It was first class and informative as well as inspirational.  The first session featured the panel of Florida leaders four photos down.  These movers and shakers -Michelle Dennard, CEO of Career Source Florida, Ken Lawson, Director of Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity, Mike Myhre, CEO of Florida SBDC, and Jamal Sowell, CEO of Enterprise Florida- followed the Chief Economist of  the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Jerry Parrish.  In Florida, there are 335,000 people looking for jobs and 273,700 jobs looking for people. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The conference was co-hosted by the Jim Moran Institute of Florida State University and the Florida SBDC.  Members of both organizations presented great classes such as business model canvas, grant making, leadership, sales presentations, data integration, financing a venture, social media, accounting strategies, negotiations, and overcoming obstacles.  Keynoters knocked the ball out of the park with Using Data to Drive Growth, Big Impacts by a Small Business, and a terrific inside look at the culture of Zappos.com by Ryo Zsun.  Their “WOW” customer service is so good it is the definition of Zappos.  One example, an employee cannot end a customer phone call, the customer must end it first!

Revealing was the fact there is a full network of SBDCs across America with an annual conference (this year Sept. 3-6 in Long Beach CA).  There are nearly 1,000 local centers available to provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses.  SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private sector partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Even more incredible is the JMI, Jim Moran Institute of FSU.  Moran was a mega auto dealer with original ties to Toyota imports into  the U. S.  Now deceased, he and his widow Jan (shown below), have generously donated millions to the goals of the institute -cultivate, train, and inspire entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research.  Words cannot describe the impact their legacy is having on small business, and there are plans to expand their largess from Florida to other regions of the U. S.   Story of a great man –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Moran_(businessman).

This was a wonderful event and conference, and there will be another in 2020 which this entrepreneur teacher cannot recommend enough.  Small businesses of all types and fields cannot help but benefit by attending –https://jmi.fsu.edu/programs/small-business-leadership-conference.