Pensacola now has three members on the Florida Council to Investigate, Support and Encourage Small and Medium-Owned Businesses.
The school district announced last week that Alison Watson, director of purchasing and business services for Esimbia County Public Schools, has been appointed to a two-year term on the Florida Small and Minority Business Development Advisory Council.
She is joined on the council by two local members of the Florida Small Business Development Center, SBDC Network CEO Gregory Britton and SBDC Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives Jane Dougwillow.
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As part of the Florida Advisory Council on Small and Minority Business Development, the three entities work together to provide the state with awareness and expertise regarding small and minority business development. Council members from across the state will examine the role of small and minority businesses in the state’s economy and make recommendations on how to improve them.
Watson has worked with the school district for the past 25 years and, among other contributions, pioneered the “Circle of Opportunity” partnership model where members of the school system, the business community and the local community work together and cross-fertilize. ‘Success.
“I just want to serve my community. I guess that’s my passion,” Watson said. So I guess that’s my personal ambition, to try to make a positive contribution to society as a whole.
The Circle of Opportunity model involves the school district partnering with small businesses, minority businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide critical goods and services to support families in the community. Having an integrated customer base helps provide financial stability for a business, and having reliable services helps students perform to their potential in school.
“I saw it as an opportunity to serve the community, and by serving the community and supporting small businesses, we were able to better support our students and their families,” Watson said.
Watson hopes to bring this type of initiative to the council as well as help build stronger communities across the state.
We’re a great economic force in our community and by developing that and going out into the community, we want to not only support your business, but we want to be good community partners in general,” Watson said. . “We’re in this community, we all live in this community, we love the area so how can we be a better partner as a school district and contribute to the community?”
Greg Britton is the state director of the Florida SBDC Network, based out of the network’s state office at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Britton is responsible for overseeing the network’s more than 40 offices and 280 employees, executing Florida’s SBDC strategy and ensuring the network exceeds stakeholder expectations and contributes to Florida’s bottom line.
Britton has more than 25 years of experience in aviation, medical, oil and gas and high-tech commercial product manufacturing. Most recently, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of DEFENSEWERX, a 501(c)(3) organization that connects individuals, businesses, academia and government with the Department of Defense to enable innovative and integrated solutions.
Dougwillo’s background includes 10 years as manager of the SBDC’s Statewide Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps small businesses obtain registration and certification, prepare bids and obtain contract opportunities from agencies that purchase goods and services. Dougwillow spent 10 years in the Australian Department of Defence.
The Florida Small and Minority Business Development Advisory Council currently has 15 members from across Florida and held its most recent meeting on February 16th.