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Florida 8(a) Alliance now headquartered at Beaver Street

8(a)A well-attended open house on Friday, November 22, marked the establishment of the Florida 8(a) Alliance headquarters at Beaver Street Enterprise Center. Founded in November 2011 and recognized as a 501 (c) (3) Charity, the Florida 8(a) Alliance’s mission is to strengthen, train, educate and promote 8(a) and other small businesses. Andy Harold, Florida 8(a) Alliance co-founder, enlisted the expertise of Stephanie Marquardt, who brought an extensive background and knowledge of nonprofit operations to take their idea to the next level. “It was our way of way of giving back to the business community that has helped our business grow,” said Andy Harold, President of A. Harold & Associates, LLC. Friday’s open house also served as a reunion of sorts for Harold, as it marked his return to Beaver Street, albeit in a new capacity.

Now firmly centered in one of Florida’s most successful entrepreneurial launch pads, the Florida 8(a) Alliance is encouraging and assisting small business owners who are interested in obtaining federal contracts. “We provide counseling on business plans and next steps, webinars and networking opportunities, training and educational programs and access to resources and information on Federal contracting opportunities,” said Stephanie Marquardt, Executive Director of the Florida 8(a) Alliance. Marquardt’s extensive experience with non-profits has shaped the direction of the organization.

In 2013, the Florida 8(a) Alliance has already started making a dynamic difference for small businesses in the State of Florida. At their June 2013 Conference in Orlando, with the theme “Partnering for Success,” the SBA signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the Florida 8(a) Alliance for the whole state of Florida to demonstrate the SBA’s continued support for small businesses wanting to do business with the government. Also, in response to the Florida 8(a) Alliance 2013 proposal of a strategic approach to grow defense industry federal contracting dollars in the State of Florida, the 8(a) Alliance was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF). The Florida 8(a) Alliance program is titled the Florida Small Business Defense and Veteran Initiative (FSBDVI) and could become the state’s federal contracting “gateway” by building partnerships between military installations, large business prime contractors and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB).

Beaver Street Enterprise Center’s Executive Director Jackie Perry welcomed the Alliance Friday night. “This is the ideal location for the Florida 8(a) Alliance to partner with entrepreneurs who are slated for future success. We are thrilled to have Stephanie and Andy with us!”

For information on upcoming conferences and events, as well as membership in the Florida 8(a) Alliance, please visit www.florida8a.org.


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