Small Business Institute, SBI

Small Business Institute® National Honors Won by UCF Students in Florida SBDC at UCF Program

Student Team Assists Local Small Business with Award Winning Consulting

April 5, 2021


Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or

Orlando, FL –    The Small Business Institute® (SBI®), the premier provider of professional development for those engaged in experiential student team consulting and related entrepreneurship education, research and activities and the link between business, education and community, recently announced that a student team from the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration (UCF CBA) was a winner in its annual Experiential Learning Project of the Year (POY) competition, taking 2nd place in the 2020-21 ‘Graduate Specialized’ category.

In competition with MBA teams from across the country, the UCF CBA team of students Jamie Mead, Connor Pitchford and Carlos Vega won 2nd place in the ‘Graduate Specialized’ category on the strength of their consulting project for Evan James & Associates, an Orlando-based commercial real estate brokerage firm. The student consulting team prepared a detailed marketing plan including a competitive analysis, industry analysis, market analysis, and recommendations to introduce the firm’s newest product line of prefabricated modular steel structures to target markets (including B-to-B, B-to-C, and B-to-G segments). The team worked with faculty advisor Dr. Carl Blencke, an instructor for the UCF CBA’s Department of Management, as part of a management class.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate our students on winning this prestigious award,” said Ron Piccolo, PhD. and Galloway Professor and Chair of the Department of Management. “Utilizing the SBI® program as part of our course offering is an important educational partnership between UCF and the FSBDC which contributes to the quality of the student educational experience at the University of Central Florida.”

“This award is well earned recognition for the quality work produced for our FSBDC client by these impressive students,” commented Eunice Choi, Regional Director for the FSBDC at UCF. “The FSBDC at UCF and UCF partnership supporting the SBI® is indicative of our shared commitment to the small businesses in Central Florida while also offering experiential learning opportunities to UCF students. It demonstrates UCF’s commitment to our community and to growing the local economy, and the FSBDC’s contribution to furthering UCF’s educational mission.”

Jeremy Sisson, the Chief Executive Officer of Evan James & Associates said, “Our team really enjoyed working with the MBA students on this project for our firm.  The students were very professional and the comprehensive national marketing plan they created for our American Steel Collection product line was timely and well thought out.  We immediately deployed their recommendations and will have a record-breaking year, as a result.  We highly recommend other small business executives work with their local SBDC offices and universities to further their business growth.”

The Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC) sponsors the Small Business Institute® in Central Florida and, in conjunction with the Department of Management at the UCF College of Business Administration, manages the SBI® program locally. It recruits and evaluates FSBDC clients for the program, lends FSBDC consultants as SBI® case supervisors and provides a range of guidance and support. The FSBDC is part of the UCF Office of Partnership and Innovation.

At the UCF College of Business Administration, SBI® is a graduate‐level elective course. Students enrolled in the class provide management consulting services to local small businesses. Each student team has direct contact with the client and produces a professional case report. The report is the ultimate product of the program and is tailored to each business. Case study reports have included market research, marketing plans, competitive analysis, advertising strategy, customer surveys, strategic plans, financial analysis, human resource manuals, and business plans.

The SBI® Program is offered as a full-semester credit course through the CBA’s Department of Management. During the semester, the student teams oversaw and implemented extensive research and analysis to determine industry best practices; met regularly to understand company processes and procedures; and performed wide-ranging analysis of business and industry strategies and performance. As a result of their efforts, the students were able to provide a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations.

SBI® is a nation‐wide program that provides high‐quality business assistance to companies in need while providing an extraordinary opportunity for university students to learn through field case studies. Each project is led and conducted by a group of students under the supervision of an SBI® Director or faculty member. The experience is often cited by students as being one of the most rewarding of their academic careers. In today’s collegiate environment there is a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and the SBI® has been at the forefront of this movement for over thirty years.


About the FSBDC at UCF

With its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership and Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network. The FSBDC at UCF provides business seminars and no-cost, one-on-one business consultation to emerging and established businesses. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty 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 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, 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 2016 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

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862 |