Campus & Community

Small Business Development Center helps state network land national award

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker congratulates Michael Myhre, CEO and network state director for the Florida SBDC, and Debbie Bernard Lanford, an international trade specialist at the Palm Beach State SBDC.

The Small Business Development Center at Palm Beach State College is part of a statewide network honored by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker for significantly contributing to the expansion of U.S. exports, including helping Palm Beach County businesses market and sell their goods globally.

The Florida SBDC Network, which offers international trade services at 10 of its more than 40 centers, including the one at Palm Beach State, received the President’s “E” Award, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive. Debbie Bernard Lanford, an international trade specialist at Palm Beach State’s SBDC, was among three representatives of the state network who attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Monday to accept the award.

“I’m honored to be a part of a program that has received recognition from the Department of Commerce, but knowing that we’re making a true economic impact in Palm Beach County by helping our local business owners increase sales through exporting is the most rewarding part of my job,’’ said Lanford.

Lanford was tapped to represent the Florida SBDC Network because of her direct impact on growing manufacturing exports. Among Lanford’s successes is the help she provided Radical Cosmetics. The company relocated from New Jersey to Lake Worth in 2010 and initially struggled with cash flow and production interruption issues after purchasing its new 30,000 square-foot-manufacturing facility. With 25 employees at the time and production running at 30 percent, CEO Fenton Baijnath turned to the SBDC for help to increase sales.

Lanford created an Export Marketing Plan for Radical Cosmetics and encouraged Baijnath to take advantage of the Gold Key grant available from Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service. The grant allowed him to travel on a trade mission to the Dominican Republic, where he generated a $110,000 sale and interest in future orders. Since then, he has expanded his operations into other markets.

Lanford has personally completed five other Export Marketing Plans over the last two years for Palm Beach County businesses, including medical device and sign manufactures as well as environmental technology companies. She is scheduled to deliver six this year. She also has helped coordinate all of the international trade specialists around the state.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Florida SBDC Network is a leading source of export assistance for small businesses in the state. Through a partnership with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service, international trade specialists prepare Export Marketing Plans for qualifying Florida-based manufacturers and service providers. Specialists spend approximately 100 hours on each plan, creating a customized report with target market recommendations, overseas trade opportunities, and an action plan for market entry.

In 2015, U.S. exports totaled $2.23 trillion, accounting for nearly 13 percent of U.S. GDP. Nationally, exports contributed to the U.S. economy, supporting an estimated 11.5 million jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

For more information about the Small Business Development Center at Palm Beach State, visit

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