For Beth Gitlin, becoming the director of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Florida Institute of Technology was more than a great professional opportunity, it was a chance to give back. “Breast cancer changed my life in 2011, as it does for everyone, and when I was asked to become the WBC director in 2012, I realized my priorities had changed and it was important for me to pay forward the love I had received during a rough patch in my life.” Her efforts have paid huge dividends as the WBC was named a 2012 SBA Women’s Business Center of Excellence nationwide and this year they were recognized as the 2014 SBA Small Business Advocate of the Year for the State of Florida.
“Amazingly, I’m on my fifth career, as I call it. The common thread throughout these various careers is that I found I have a passion for the educational side of business, mentoring others and helping them to develop professionally,” Gitlin said. One example is IGNITE 360, which takes small businesses, which have completed the startup phase and are in the second stage growth phase, through an intensive six-month assessment, planning and implementation process, helping the entrepreneur to instill the clarity of focus needed to create and implement an effective strategic plan.
“Living in Brevard County since 2007 has been such an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, it is the first chance I’ve had since graduating college to really get to know my local community, to make a difference and contribute to it in a meaningful way.”
The success they have had locally will soon expand to a regional impact as they recently were awarded a $750,000 SBA grant to open a WBC in the Orlando area, which will serve a five-county region.