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Florida Small Business Development Council 2023 Awards: Moore About Business

Since I own and run a small business AND my small business’ main focus is to serve other local small business owners, I love the month of May, because it’s “Salute To Small Business” month.

The Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University recently hosted its annual “Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year” event as part of this month-long celebration.

Dr. Chris Westley, dean of the Lutgert College of Business at FGCU, kicked off the evening’s festivities.

"Since 2001, entrepreneurship has surged as an economic force and in popular culture," said Westley.

He went on to explain the role of small business as an economic force in our region.

"Entrepreneurs are all over the place, in our midst and at your tables, risking capital, losing sleep, creating wealth where it did not previously exist, all to satisfy the needs of complete strangers. How heroic is that?" he asked. "And while it’s not unique to Southwest Florida, it surely defines us. There are reasons why some of the best entrepreneurs of our era are attracted to this region."

Westley listed our region’s most known entrepreneurs like Reinhold Schmeiding of Arthrex, Michael Dent of Neogenomics, Ryan Carter of Scottlynn, Bill Daubmann of My Shower Door, Teri Hansen of Priority Marketing, along with the entire class of 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur nominees.

"These are all creators who use underutilized or unused resources to add to our regional and national wealth. They could’ve planted their roots in other states but they chose Florida and Southwest Florida, in particular," he said.

The evening’s winners were then recognized. The SBA’s State Award for the 2022 Rural Business of the Year is B & H Farms of Immokalee. The Southwest Florida Advocate of the Year is Malike Adigun of Curate Entertainment; Innovator of the Year is Jeffrey Bonk of Architectural Metal Flashings and the 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur is Rob Whyte of Fort Myers Brewing Company.

Here’s to ALL of our small businesses in Southwest Florida!

Karen Moore is a contributing partner for WGCU and the publisher of SWFL Business Today.

Publisher of SWFL Business Today