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Small Business Leadership Forum Gives Small Business Owners Tools to Succeed


Contact: Anna Alexopoulos, CFO Jeff Atwater 
(850) 413-2842
Barbara Ash, FSU College of Business
(850) 728-7014

TAMPA – Small business owners from across the state convene today at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel in Tampa for the two-day 2012 Small Business Leadership Forum aimed at strategically helping their businesses have long-term prosperity and increasing their bottom lines.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in Florida State University’s College of Business have partnered for the forum, bringing together industry experts and university leaders to share best practices, resources and opportunities for growth as the state recovers from the economic downturn. The forum’s goal is to connect directly with small business owners and bring that valuable feedback to Tallahassee.

“For Florida’s small businesses, serving the community not only means providing Floridians with a service or product, it also means employing four out of five of their neighbors,” CFO Atwater said. “Small businesses are the driving force behind employment in this state. There is no doubt our focus needs to be on cultivating these businesses so that Floridians have access to a thriving job market.”

Forum topics and panel discussions, targeted specifically to small business owners, include short- and long-term forecasts and trends of Florida’s economy, creating an environment for investment and improving access to capital, and leveraging resources available through our public universities and small business development centers. Breakout sessions, taught by top practitioners in their fields, cover best practices for selling products and services, managing and protecting your brand, dealing with employees and legal issues, and the fundamentals of supply chain management.

The keynote speaker is entrepreneur, digital expert and author Gary Vaynerchuk, who grew his business in eight years from $3 million to $45 million through e-commerce. In 2009, using the web and social media, he launched VaynerMedia, which helps Fortune 500 companies find their social media footing and build their digital brands.

“We are fortunate to have attracted such a high caliber of speakers and panelists for this event,” said FSU business professor Randy Blass, director of The Jim Moran Institute. “Our aim is to nurture Florida’s small-business owners by giving them the tools and expertise to grow their businesses and contribute to growing Florida’s economy.”

For more details about the 2012 Small Business Leadership Forum and a list of sponsors, visit

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away capital, and ensuring transparency and accountability in spending.

The mission of The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University is to cultivate, train and inspire entrepreneurial leaders in the community through education programs and curriculum, intensive consulting assistance and mentorship to entrepreneurs and business owners. Through degree and certificate programs in entrepreneurship, outreach programs in Florida, and complementary activities such as speakers and workshops, The Jim Moran Institute currently serves 2,000 business and non-business majors on campus and more than 200 businesses in the community each year.