May 8, 2008
08-090

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Barnett Awarded 'Consultant of the Year' by Georgia SBDC

VALDOSTA - Suzanne Barnett, area director of the Valdosta State University Small Business Development Center, was awarded "Consultant of the Year" at the annual meeting of the Georgia Small Business Development Center Network held at the University of Georgia's state office in Athens.

The Georgia SBDC Network exists in partnership with the small business administration and each office within the 18-unit network provides services that are free and confidential to all of those interested in starting a business or receiving assistance with a present business.

Barnett, who claimed the highest honor conferred at the statewide event, leads the local center, which provides business consulting and continuing education opportunities for the South Central Georgia area, including the Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Lanier, Lowndes and Thomas counties. Her award was based on her accomplishments during the previous year, which include work with the business community, program development, publications, presentations and professional development.

“Suzanne has established the kind of reputation in the Valdosta area that we would like for all of our consultants to have,” said State Director Allan Adams. “She is a critical player in local entrepreneurial efforts and activities.”

Barnett began her career with the network in 1994 when she accepted the position at the local center, four years before it became part of VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration and moved into Thaxton Hall on north campus. While she possesses a broad range of skills and expertise that make her a valuable resource to her clients, co-workers have said it is her genuine spirit, dedication and concern for clients that set her apart.

“Her award is evidence of her dedication and concern,” said Rose Ware, administrative coordinator for the SBDC. “I see her working at night and on weekends to finish up important projects for clients. Its not just a nine to five job for her; it is many hours and she takes it very seriously.”

The SBDC Network, which celebrated 30 years of service in 2007, is comprised of 18 offices located throughout the state. According to its Web site, it works with more than 131,000 individuals by aiding in business plan creation, financial analysis, capital resource identification and marketing strategy assessment as well as helping current and potential business owners understand business opportunities and make sound investment decisions. It has also touched over 360,000 participants through SBCD-sponsored training programs.

“The SBDC now provides a critical infrastructure to support local, state and federal efforts to give small businesses the knowledge and information they need to remain competitive - creating jobs and improving our quality of life,” Adams said.

According to a self-review report, the Georgia SBDC Network is one of only two nationwide to earn accreditation from the National Association of Small Business Development Centers with no conditions for three consecutive review cycles. It offers new programs like FastTrac, Growth Venture and ExportGA, all of which target second-stage businesses, as well as new initiatives that focus in on Latino businesses and the changing demographics. Its high quality of programming and expanding opportunities are just a few reasons that the NASBDC considers Georgia’s network “in the very top tier of SBDC networks in the country.”

For more information about the local SBDC, call (229) 245-3738 or visit www.valdosta.edu/sbdc . Visit www.sbdc.uga.edu for information on the state network.