November 7, 2012

Businesses Recognized for GrowSmart Completion

VALDOSTA – Twelve local small businesses were recognized for completion of the Valdosta Small Business Development Center’s GrowSmart program Thursday, Nov 1.

The GrowSmart program includes five weeks of training for leaders of companies with at least two years of successful operation and the desire to continue the growth of their businesses. Sessions held throughout program covered topics ranging from strategic planning to interpersonal communication.

The program included representatives from various industries such as technology, produce and finance. The participants worked together in discussion groups and shared important lessons they took away from each session.

“I found the financial modules to be particularly beneficial - not only for my business - but as a tool I can use in my household as well,” said Elton Dixon, owner of Enay Designs, a graphic design business. “We also learned the importance of strategic planning and staying on top of all aspects of your business. I realize that if you don’t plan, your business will fail.”

Anne Turner of Smith Barnas and Associates, a local human resources outsourcing company, said that the class helps business leaders evaluate the skills they have, identify the ones they may not have and learn how to seek out the skills they lack for the benefit of their companies.

“The classes are broken into components, which include leadership, finance and strategic planning. I think that this program and the services that the SBDC provides to community businesses are invaluable.”

For Jonathan Burns, owner of JBurns Construction, participation in the GrowSmart program was “perfect timing.”

“I cannot put into words how much information I’ve taken away from the sessions,” said Burns. “I wish I had done this when I started my business 10 years ago.”

The GrowSmart program was offered through a partnership between the SBDC and Guardian Bank, which pledged sponsorship of $15,000 for 2012 to fund several training programs specifically targeted for small businesses. The program would have normally cost a business $895 per participant. However, Guardian’s sponsored provided $600 scholarships for each participant, which reduced cost to enroll to $295 per participant.  

“Guardian Bank has been a longtime supporter of the SBDC and its initiatives,” said Dr. Ronald Zaccari, strategic planning/regional and community relations officer of Guardian Bank and former VSU president. “In addition, we are following our own strategic plan by becoming more involved in the economic development of the community in which our bank is located. We are considering increasing financial support in 2013.”

For more information about the Valdosta State University SBDC or to inquire about free business consulting or additional upcoming classes, contact Ruby Riesinger, area director, at or or call 229-245-3738.