Small Business Development Center Offers Vital Resources for St. Johns County Small Businesses
The St. Johns County Department of Economic Development has a long-term partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida (SBDC at UNF) to offer no-cost business consulting services for prospective and existing small business owners in St. Johns County. Small businesses are a key part of both the St. Johns County and United States economy, making up more than 90% of all businesses in the United States. Since 1976, the Florida SBDC at UNF has helped more than 60,000 small businesses in an 18-county area.
Marge Cirillo, senior small business consultant, is the dedicated consultant in St. Johns County with an office located within the Growth Management Department building at 4040 Lewis Speedway in St. Augustine. Marge has extensive knowledge in operating small businesses, owning three successful restaurants and a catering business for eight years. She has also worked at the SBDC for more than 12 years and was awarded regional consultant of the year in 2023. Marge’s areas of expertise include lending, restaurant/retail operations, marketing and agribusiness. Marge’s expertise is backed by a team of more than 20 people within the regional SBDC office that provides additional support for business owners.
Small business consulting services offered through the SBDC include business startup, financial analysis, marketing and research, funding options, business planning, disaster preparation and recovery, search engine optimization (SEO) and online presence, among other services. Also, training is available both online and through in-person classes and includes topics such as QuickBooks, government contracting, cybersecurity and more. The SBDC offers networking opportunities on a regular basis as well.
Mochiatsu, a franchise in St. Johns County that serves mochi donuts, Korean hot dogs and boba started by owner Linda Zhou, is a SBDC success story. Linda reached out to Marge for assistance with marketing ideas. After working with Marge, Linda updated her marketing strategy to go beyond the franchisor resources. Marge assisted with the ribbon cutting event and marketing to local officials and businesses. She also encouraged Linda to network with the local business community to help get the word out about her location. When asked about her experience working with the SBDC, Linda said, “I am very grateful for all the help received from Marge, and I think every business owner and prospective business should use the services of the Small Business Development Center.”
For questions or to schedule a no-cost appointment, Marge can be reached at 904-209-1295 or email@example.com. Also, to accommodate all schedules, virtual appointments are available during regular business hours as well as early-morning, evening and weekend hours. For more information about the SBDC and to view the schedule of events, visit www.sbdc.unf.edu.