National Center for Equity and Agency

The National Center for Equity and Agency (NCEA)

It’s a simple adage: you don’t know what you don’t know. Recognizing and addressing this fact can easily become a major hurdle for entrepreneurs and small business owners who work tirelessly using every minute of every day to build their businesses. Asking for help can also be difficult but – for those who do – the rewards can be immense.

Dr. Laura McGuire

Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her), the founder and principal of The National Center for Equity and Agency (NCEA), had built an impressive knowledge and experiential base in their calling as a consultant focused on the intersection of sexual misconduct, trauma-informed care, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. By their own admission, however, they did not have the same command of what it takes to build a successful business and turned for assistance to the Florida Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College (FSBDC at DSC), a sub-center of the FSBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

The National Center for Equity and Agency is the only consulting firm in the nation to be fully focused on sexual misconduct and diversity and inclusion. This leads the organization focus on a wide range of topics including Title IX, consent, sexual harassment, domestic violence, restorative practices for offenders, trauma-informed care, and more. The NCEA is also the only firm to be comprised of graduate-level social scientists, offering a unique perspective that is research-informed and based upon lived experience. NCEA goes far beyond box-checking compliance in the form of transformative and cutting-edge workshops, trainings, keynotes, and consulting packages.

“As much as I know my field, I know my subject matter inside and out,” explains Dr. McGuire, “The ins and outs of business – marketing, sales, finance, how to really get the attention of potential customers – was the area I was going to need support in.” And that is what the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting; business training seminars and webinars; and access to extensive market research resources and databases could provide.

“I’ve used consulting by a couple of the people at the FSBDC and that’s been really helpful,” Dr. McGuire remarked, working most recently with FSBDC at DSC Sub-center Director Trecia Marchand. “Talking to multiple individuals and getting their unique perspective has given me the holistic picture of what it means to succeed and really presented us with a solid foundation to launch from and then move forward from,” they continued.

“We went from just putting the first messages out there and existing to being a globally impacting, six-figure organization,” Dr. McGuire states proudly today. “And that is due to a lot of this mentorship and support and information that we wouldn’t have had otherwise or we would have had to pay a lot of money for. I think the FSBDC being this really approachable, easy-to-get-into place where anyone can ask questions, get resources, get support feeds into the bigger message of creating an equitable environment for all entrepreneurs across the country.”

For information about The National Center for Equity and Agency, please visit .

It's a A Dog's World. t's A Dog's World delivers all inclusive experiences for doggies and their parents living in Lake Nona, Saint Cloud, and Harmony to name a few.

It’s A Dog’s World

Orlando, FL – For many entrepreneurs, a great idea for a new business may not be enough. Finding guidance, expertise, and support is often essential to get the business off the ground and started successfully. When Zorayma Barnard decided to launch her new business – It’s A Dog’s World – with support from husband Andrew, she turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its office in Kissimmee at the Osceola Chamber of Commerce for that assistance.

It's a Dog's World's Zorayma Barnard and FSBDC' at UCF - Osceola County's Rafael Pratts

It’s a Dog’s World is a family-owned, family-run business dedicated – as they like to say – ‘to inspiring joy for doggies and their parents’ by creating safe, enriching experiences for those doggies. “What makes It’s a Dog’s World unique,” says Zorayma, “is that we provide exclusive field trips, play dates, adventures, and overnight stays for dogs in the south Orlando area. We will pick up your baby at your home and bring them to our new, private and over two-acre playland where they can run and splash and play.”

When they are tuckered out, says Barnard, there is an air-conditioned tiny home ‘doggie house’ for their R&R. And then the opportunity for more play. “At the end of the day, we bring them home happy, exercised and tired,” says Barnard. “It’s great for the busy pet parent who doesn’t always have the time to get to the dog park but loves their pet and wants to provide an awesome experience for them.”

When It’s a Dog’s World was still just an idea, Barnard applied her vision, sense of purpose, laser focus, and boundless determination to finding guidance with starting her business. “The reason I got involved with the Florida SBDC is because I saw there were no-cost consulting resources, webinars and all kinds of great tools available for entrepreneurs,” she says today. “I knew I needed support; I needed advice; I needed direction. When I saw the FSBDC had a local office, I reached out and it’s been a great partnership ever since.”

“My experience working with the FSBDC has been awesome, and fun,” Barnard continued. “My consultant Rafael Pratts brings a lot of great insight and thoughtfulness to our conversations. He provides me resources. He dares me to think outside the box. He’s just very innovative and it challenges me to be thoughtful and creative too.”

“I’ve seen great business results since I’ve been working with the FSBDC,” Barnard says today. “Since we started working with them, we were able to purchase the land we are on and the tiny home that we’re sitting in right now. We were able to open in July 2022 and already have repeat, loyal customers and a lot of happy doggie parents. We have achieved great success because we’re a place where dogs are always welcome and always loved.”

“I would definitely recommend that any entrepreneur, any future entrepreneur, anyone thinking about the possibilities in starting a new business to reach out to the FSBDC,” Barnard concluded. “They are open and honest and genuine people who are teachers who provide a lot of help and support, and just want to help you grow your business.”

For information about It’s a Dog’s World, please visit

Blue Heron CPAs

Blue Heron CPAs

Smart, savvy, and experienced entrepreneurs understand that going it alone is a losing proposition. Finding no cost or low-cost mentors, advisors, partners, and resources is the strategy that can make the difference between success and failure when starting a new business. Nathan Gauger, founder and managing partner of Blue Heron CPAs based in The Villages, FL, fully appreciated this fact and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in Sumter County for help.

Blue Heron CPAs provides personal and small business tax services, as well as bookkeeping and general business accounting services. With an office in The Villages and full-service satellite offices in Leesburg (Lake County) and Ocala (Marion County), Blue Heron was built to serve the needs of its local communities. “We truly intend to provide a consultative component to all the services we provide,” Gauger says. “We sit down with you, talk you through your situation. Our goal is to inform you on what is truly happening in your business or your personal finances associated with your taxes and your financial information.”

Opened in 2021, Blue Heron CPAs sought assistance from the FSBDC when Gauger observed new opportunities for his business and his clients’ businesses. “Everybody likes to take advantage of government assistance when it’s available,” Gauger claims. “We found that opportunity with the FSBDC.” Working with Jamie Mead, consultant in the FSBDC at UCF’s Sumter County Office; Phil Geist,  consultant from the FSBDC at the University of North Florida; and Jairo Batista, consultant at the FSBDC at UCF’s Orlando Office, Gauger received the support he needed in multiple ways.

“With the FSBDC, we have been really fortunate to use Jairo for all our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs,” Gauger shares. “Jamie was extremely informative with all the demographic data that she offered. We also utilized the FSBDC at UNF for some of our clients in Marion County that were having trouble getting financing. Working with the FSBDC has been extremely pleasant. It’s insane how helpful they can be in all of the different facets of a business,” recalls Gauger.

“Working with the FSBDC, I have seen my business grow,” Gauger continued. “The SEO work that Jairo did means my websites now place high in the Google rankings. Jamie’s demographic databases allow me to target the right customers with positive messaging and bring them to our business. We also recommend the FSBDC to a good majority of our business clients, telling them to reach out because there is great opportunity and great resources to be had from them, and it’s at zero cost.”

“If you’re a new entrepreneur, if you’re someone looking to grow a business and you have not done this before, I advise you to get help,” Gauger concludes. “I would always start with the SBDC and fully utilize their services to grow your business. The one word I would use to describe the SBDC is ‘Passionate’; I don’t know one of their advisors – and I have now worked with four – that doesn’t have a love for actually helping people. That takes passion and that is an absolutely beautiful thing to have on your side.”

For information about Blue Heron CPAs, please visit

Fabiola Mistelske Bridal Beauty

Fabiola Mistelske Beauty

Finding your inner entrepreneur and using that passion to start your own business is a momentous undertaking, especially if you have never done it before. Fabiola Mistelske had the drive to make her dream business – Fabiola Mistelske Beauty – come true and become a success, she just didn’t know where to start. Fabiola decided to turn to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance and is happy she did.

Fabiola Mistelske Beauty is comprised of a team of beauty professionals who specialize in bridal beauty – meaning they focus solely on providing brides and their bridal parties with hair and makeup services. “What makes us unique is our company is all about the details,” says Mistelske. “Especially when it comes to bridal work, every single detail matters because we customize every single look for every single bride every single time. I train my artists to pay attention to every detail because doing so encompasses everything you are looking for in your bridal look.”

Mistelske came to entrepreneurship with limited business experience but with a clear vision for her company and a wealth of energy to make it happen. “In my journey with the SBDC, I have discovered myself within my business,” she believes. “I started from zero but all the steps and all the information I have received working with my FSBDC consultant Sharon Smith has been amazing. She has been there since the beginning, holding my hand since I started the business. I couldn’t be more grateful for this help, for this opportunity.”

Mistelske’s journey with the FSBDC included taking advantage of its no-cost, expert consulting; its business training and workshops; and its access to extensive market research and databases. “Today, 11 months later, I have seven stylists with me. We do weddings pretty much every single weekend and, for the past three months, we have been able to double book our weekends, and we’re already booking for 2023 and 2024,” Fabiola proudly remarked. “This is where Sharon has been so amazing, guiding me through everything I needed in order for me to get to where I am today.”

Becoming an entrepreneur has been wonderful in other ways for Mistelske. When her nine-year-old daughter Agatha and her class were asked in school if anyone knew what an entrepreneur is, Agatha drew a blank. However, when her teacher explained the meaning and asked if anyone knew one, at that moment Agatha recognized that her mom was an entrepreneur and hers was the only hand to shoot up. “My Mom is an entrepreneur,” Agatha declared with pleasure. When Fabiola heard the story later, she was overwhelmed. “She was so proud of me,” Fabiola recalls, “It was a great moment and I realized that all my efforts had been summarized in it.”

“For anyone thinking of working with the FSBDC, it should be a no-brainer,” Mistelske concludes. “The help is endless. The opportunities are endless. The help is right there for you to grab it. I’m growing my business, I’m growing my team, and it’s all because of the FSBDC.”

For information about Fabiola Mistelske Beauty, please visit

Mr Appliance of Clermont and Apopka, FL

Mr. Applicance of Clermont and Apopka, FL

Expanding a local small business from one state to another can easily become a complex and daunting process. All manner of rules, regulations, and requirements can – and very frequently do – differ from state to state and  it can be a steep climb to get started. It was for that reason that, when owners Amanda Martin and her husband James decided to leverage the success that they found in New Jersey by launching a second Mr. Appliance franchise in Florida, they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for guidance.

Mr. Appliance is North America’s leading home and commercial appliance repair franchise system. Established in 1996 and now with almost 290 locations in the U.S. and Canada, Mr. Appliance franchises provide full-service home appliance and light commercial appliance repair services. “We have a Mr. Appliance in New Jersey and we wanted to grow,” Martin recalls. “Florida is a great place to do that, so we decided to open our second service center, Mr. Appliance of Clermont & Apopka.” Thanks to the professionalism, training, and the courtesy of their office staff and technicians, the Martins’ Florida office has established itself as the preferred vendor in its service area. “We truly care about getting you up and running as soon as possible,” Martin states. As an authorized service provider for many leading manufacturers including Bosch and GE, they receive the training and support needed to make the right repairs quickly, as well as pass on manufacturer’s discounts to their customers.

“We sought help from the FSBDC to start our company in Florida because we didn’t know where to start, or what’s needed by the state,” shares Martin. “The FSBDC really helped us get moving in a very, very positive direction and getting us up and running a lot quicker than we anticipated. They helped me every step of the way to create my business, getting all the paperwork taken care of with phone calls, video calls, everything I needed. Any question I had, they were there to answer them for me.”

“Working with our consultant Chuck Wheeler and the FSBDC was a dream,” Martin continues. “They made sure I stayed on target, stayed on task, stayed on track to open my business as soon as possible.” Wheeler’s and the FSBDC’s assistance didn’t stop with the launch of the business either. “Even now he still keeps in contact. “Now that we’ve been open 18 months, the FSBDC is assisting us with our marketing, getting our name out there. They have been a tremendous help to us growing in our target area, which is Winter Garden and Horizon West. We are definitely growing and becoming the superior appliance repair company that everybody in our area wants to call for their needs,” says Martin.

“The one word I would use to describe the FSBDC would be ‘Extraordinary’, concludes Martin. “They helped us keep on track with opening our business and to go above and beyond to keep furthering our expansion as well as growth. They care about how our business is doing in the State of Florida and we appreciate it very much.”

Blezoo marketing solutions


Exhilaration, accomplishment, and financial success are some of the rewards enjoyed by entrepreneurs and small business owners as they chart their course and navigate their companies from pre-venture to start-up and on to becoming an established, growing, and profitable second-stage company. The downside is that this process is often a solitary and lonely quest without the benefit of other perspectives and experiences to call upon. It’s true when they say ‘It’s lonely at the top,’ after all. Dean Caravelis, founder and CEO of Orlando marketing promotions innovator Blezoo, solved this problem when he discovered the community of business leaders and peers found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) CEO XChange executive roundtable program.

Founded in 2008, Blezoo distinguishes itself through imagination, innovation, and the ability to deliver on its promises. The firm proudly states, “We exist to inspire meaningful connections through fun & creativity. We help busy professionals create remarkable promotions so they can save time & look good.” “We’re a marketing company that produces branded products that turn into experiences in the real world,” Caravelis says, ”so brands can connect with people and other brands authentically. Blezoo is really obsessed with process that delivers things as expected; with creativity so that we can create unexpected and delightful experiences; and with progress as we work to be a little bit better every day – all so we can surpass client expectations,” Caravelis explains.

When it comes to starting and running his business, Caravelis is honest. “Being a founder can be a very lonely experience,” he shares. “Sometimes it feels like you’re alone on an island. Working with the Florida SBDC, it takes you off that island and puts you in a community. I originally reached out to the FSBDC and the CEO XChange because I heard it was an opportunity for me to interact with other CEOs, perhaps shine a light on things I don’t know and really have a kinship with peers. The CEO XChange has surpassed all those expectations and that’s why I have been a member for so many years.”

CEO XChange is an executive roundtable program serving progressive chief executives and business owners in Central Florida. Facilitated by FSBDC consultant Hal Thayer, it is designed specifically for second-stage companies and offers a confidential setting for top executives to discuss vital business issues, opportunities, and trends with a group of peers. CEO XChange presents top executives with the opportunity to broaden their business perspectives and gain new knowledge by engaging in collaborative thinking and problem-solving – giving them the ability to lead their companies more effectively.

“In the last six years, we’ve averaged about 20 – 30% growth every year at Blezoo which has been great. The CEO XChange has really helped me in a lot of areas such as thinking in the future, preparing myself for the unexpected, and given me the confidence to take the business in a new direction,” Caravelis concludes. “It’s helped me propel my growth but also sustained my thirst to lean more. It’s an experience that helps you understand what it takes to get to the next level but also validates and challenges some of your ideas.” And, as a member of the CEO XChange, you don’t have to do it alone.

For information about Blezoo,  please visit

3D Tire Company Logo

3D Tire Company, Inc.

For a successful family business, management succession from one generation to the next can become much more complicated than initially anticipated, especially when opportunities for revenue growth and operational efficiency also present themselves. When the father and sons who founded and own 3D Tire Company encountered this exact situation, they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance, and they are happy they did.

With locations in the historic town of Eatonville, FL as well as Apopka, FL, 3D Tire Company has offered quality tires, preventative maintenance, and repair services to the Central Florida area for almost 35 years. Founded by Ernest Williams, who brought sons Darrell, Donavan, and Dexter into the business (the “3 D’s”), 3D Tire Company has built its reputation and large customer base on family values, faith, and the founding principles for which it has become known: quality, dedication, and a commitment to service. “We’ve thrived on our ability to provide a quality level of service,” says Darrell Williams, “and we stand on that: Service First”

Known for being an honest, reliable, and friendly tire and auto repair shop, 3D Tire was contemplating major changes when it approached the FSBDC. “We recognized that we were a business in transition,” recalls Darrell Williams. “We were transitioning from the leadership that had been in place for 30 plus years into a second generation. There were certain aspects of the business that were important to revisit, things that were consistent but had grown obsolete. It was time for us to introduce change to the way we were conducting business.”

Assisted first by FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis, and now by consultants Jose Molfino and John Finnegan, 3D Tire and the FSBDC analyzed the company’s operations, finances and marketing efforts. “Our time with the FSBDC has been very rewarding,” remarks Darrell. “The input and guidance they afforded our company, the direction that they offered, the consulting and different suggestions they made have been instrumental in turning this company around, in reshaping our direction and re-channeling our focus. It pulled a small business such as ours out of our comfort zone and forced us to think and excel beyond the norm.”

“Since our involvement with the FSBDC, certainly from our end as a company, we’ve seen tremendous growth and expansion on various fronts,” continues Darrell. “We’ve been able to see the amount of accounts grow and secured additional business that has helped the bottom line and to increase our footprint in Central Florida.”

“For any business owner that’s thinking about working with the FSBDC, I would use two words: Do It!” Darrel Williams concludes. “The information you gain is invaluable. The experience is certainly worthwhile. And you will be able to take something away from it that will be useful for your business going forward.”

For information about 3D Tire Company, please visit

Flower shop, Palm Coast, Small Business

Blooming Flowers & Gifts

Success as an entrepreneur requires many personal qualities, none more important than perseverance. When combined with determination, resilience, and a strong work ethic, what might seem to be unremitting obstacles can be overcome. For Stephanie Caddy and her quest to buy a business in Palm Coast, there were times when a purchase seemed next to impossible. Fortunately, she turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for guidance and achieved her dream of becoming a business owner.

Blooming Flowers & Gifts is a local florist that has been in business for 17 years at European Village, a one-stop-destination for all things dining, shopping, and entertainment, featuring seven eateries, multiple salons and boutique shops, six bars, and a few real estate offices. Blooming Flowers and Gifts offers a variety of flower arrangements, European dish gardens, gifts, and much more. Blooming Flowers was, in Stephanie’s opinion, a diamond in the rough with significant promise for growth, and the then owner was ready to entertain offers. Even so, Stephanie had a myriad of critical questions that needed to be addressed. What’s the market opportunity for a florist in Palm Coast and Flagler County? What’s the right price for the existing business? What kind of changes in marketing and operations would be required to realize the business’s full potential? And where could she find a bank loan to finance the acquisition? For those answers and more, Stephanie connected with the FSBDC at UCF.

“I sought out assistance from the FSBDC on the recommendation of a local banker,” as she recalls. “She told me that Palm Coast-based FSBDC consultant Michael Oppenheim was the one to contact and that he could give me guidance and help me through the process of purchasing the business.” With Oppenheim’s assistance and support, Stephanie set to work. “The services I received from the SBDC ranged from conducting a financial analysis and valuation of the current business, to developing a marketing approach, establishing myself within the community and receiving support in obtaining a loan,” Stephanie says today.

Of all the hurdles, finding a bank and moving through the application process to a successful conclusion was the most challenging. But with Oppenheim and the FSBDC by her side, after 13 months and working with five different lenders, Stephanie finally received the loan she needed. “Navigating the loan process was arduous and complex,” she states, “given that most of the banks have different requirements and paperwork submissions to qualify for their loans. The FSBDC was very helpful in getting me to the point where I was able to succeed at obtaining my loan.”

“My experience working with the FSBDC and Mike Oppenheim was amazing,” Stephanie concludes. “I would recommend to anybody looking to purchase a business to work with the FSBDC, to help them get the reports, do the analysis, find ways to build the business, to guide them through the financing. I am grateful to the FSBDC because going through the loan process was very difficult and without their assistance, I would probably have given up.” Stephanie did not back down however, and, thanks to her own and the FSBDC’s perseverance, she became the business owner she aspired to be, and now looks forward to a successful future.

For information about Blooming Flowers & Gifts, please visit

AppleTree Connection

AppleTree Connection

Translating deep knowledge and expertise in a scientific field into a successful business is not an easy undertaking, even if you have identified a significant opportunity in the marketplace. Tara Zeller, with degrees in psychology, applied behavior analysis (ABA) and management, recognized the challenges facing career seekers in the behavioral sciences, particularly for college psychology majors and others in the social science field. In response, two and a half years ago she pivoted AppleTree Connection, a clinical ABA company, to a career and leadership organization dedicated to preparing and connecting entry level practitioners with meaningful treatment roles and leadership positions. From the beginning, Zeller sought assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), and its government contracting affiliate the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF), and their help has paid off for her.

Under Zeller’s guidance, AppleTree Connection has evolved into a leader amongst providers of training and mentoring for Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) specialists. RBTs, once certified, work in schools, clinics, and privately with individual clients to provide life-changing behavior support and therapy for various diagnoses such as: autism spectrum disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. Certification based upon an exam given by a professional oversight organization is mandatory to practice as an RBT. “We are a quality provider,” explains Zeller. “We are hands on and accessible. We train, mentor, and empower and really like to work with our students to help them uncover their passion and guide them to finding work that is meaningful to them.”

“I sought out the services of the FSBDC and FPTAC because I started my company on my own,” recalls Zeller. “I needed support with the business strategy side of things. It started with a strategic business plan seminar, then to working with Steve South (FSBDC consultant and FPTAC manager) who coached me on running a business. As a solopreneur, you wear all the hats, so it was meaningful to have Steve’s assistance and someone like him to turn to who could guide me in the ways of a business owner. It’s been great, really great.”

“Since I’ve been working with the FSBDC and PTAC, the major changes I have seen in my business start with me as a now confident CEO and business owner,” remarks Zeller. Her confidence was exhibited prominently when she pivoted her clinical ABA business to create a UCF-branded RBT Certification Course that prepares students to become RBTs and places RBTs with employers; an attractive career pathway for UCF graduates seeking a meaningful career and making an impact in their communities.

To her credit, Zeller and her team developed the program and have been teaching the classes since inception with outstanding results: The UCF RBT Program (Zeller’s program) was recognized as the #1 training provider in the country and AppleTree Connections itself ranks as the #3 provider by the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB) based upon its student’s RBT Exam success rate. Building upon that success, she is looking to expand, add instructors, partner with other universities, and duplicate the model throughout the U.S.

“My advice for a business owner considering working with the FSBDC or FPTAC is: Do not hesitate. Go for it,” Zeller concludes. “The services that they offer are truly invaluable.”

For information about AppleTree Connection, please visit

river street sweets savannah's candy kitchen logo-01

River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen

Starting a small business in a new state can be daunting, even if it that business is one of the fastest growing franchise opportunities in the country. Although you can expect support from the franchise company, the franchisor is not always the best choice when grappling with the many challenges associated with opening a new business in a new market – challenges like local permitting, employee recruitment and more. When Lucia and Keith Lubbock, owners of River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen Orlando, were starting their business and facing all those questions, Lucia turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at  the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Kissimmee office for assistance.

River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is one of America’s finest and most renowned candy brands, a southern tradition from the heart of Savannah, Georgia. Featuring its World Famous Pralines®, saltwater taffy, hand stretched peanut brittle, homemade pecan pies and made-from scratch southern delicacies, the folks at River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen proudly say they are “in the business of enriching the lives of our Guests by providing fresh, handmade Southern candies served with good, old-fashioned hospitality in a clean, fun environment.” It’s no wonder they were ranked the #2 Top Candy Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2021.

“What make us unique and special is that we make everything here, inhouse,” says Lucia Lubbock. “Every single treat that we can make and have here for sale is made with a lot of love and that makes a big difference.” Contributing to River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen’s family atmosphere is the shop’s location: the Promenade at Sunset Walk inside the Margaritaville Resort Orlando, one of Central Florida’s newest and most exciting resort destinations.

“When we first moved to Florida, we wanted to start a business,” recalls Lubbock, “and I found the FSBDC. I went there for a seminar that I found very helpful. After the seminar, I found my FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and since then they have been helping me with everything. It was about the time of the COVID shut down and she kept on helping me via ZOOM. She guided us with the local permits, with the Paycheck Protection Program or any other questions I had about my business and how to start it.”

“Doing business during COVID was challenging,” Lucia Lubbock says today. “With the help of the FSBDC and Elly Membreno, it was easier. Now the business is getting better. Our numbers are up; revenues are higher by about 35%. We have a strong team. It looks like good times for us ahead.”

“My experience with the FSBDC and with Elly Membreno, it has been great,” concluded Lubbock. “For any entrepreneur or small business owner, I would definitely suggest they go to the FSBDC because they are very helpful. Sometimes you don’t know where to start but they will guide you. Even for me as a franchisee, I know the franchisor can help us with a lot of things but, with local issues and other things, the FSBDC knows the way.”

For information about River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, please visit