Big Vision for Small Business

FSU’s Jim Moran Institute offers new direction for North Florida Entrepreneurs

Mike Campbell, hired to expand the outreach initiatives of the Jim Moran Institute, says helping businesses grow will lead to the hiring of more employees and improve the overall economy of the Northwest Florida region. Photo Scott Holstein

The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship is getting down to business.

Housed in Florida State University’s College of Business, the center with a legacy of leadership will shift its focus to a more programmatic approach when it launches its Small Business Executive Program this summer. The plan falls under the direction of business consultant Mike Campbell, hired in November 2012 to execute new outreach initiatives in North Florida. 

Designed to help existing businesses advance by addressing today’s key issues, the nine-session series is just one component of the JMI’s vision for the future of business in our region. Outreach has always been a cornerstone of the Institute. Now, a new path will be charted to expand that platform, reach more people and make an even greater impact in North Florida — and beyond.

Current director F. Randy Blass said the 18-year-old Institute continues its local legacy while trying to reach a global audience. “From the start, our outreach was one-on-one, gold standard, very personal,” Blass said. “But that model is very time intensive, limiting the number of clients we were able to serve, so we started looking at how we could reach a broader audience.”

Get with the Program

The Small Business Executive Program (SBEP) will pool community resources to give executives of established businesses — not start-ups — the tools they need to grow. 

Sam Varn, owner of Awards4U, has been affiliated with the JMI since 2001. He got involved through former director Jerry Osteryoung, a member of his Rotary club. “What really works is not theoretical or textbook, but real-world application,” Varn says.
“After the JMI analyzed our business, we got our expenses under control, and in 2004, we were Entrepreneur of the Year. The advice was good, and we paid attention.”

The SBEP will accept applications for its inaugural class of 25 business leaders in June 2013, with an anticipated first session slated for the fall. Nine sessions will be presented every other week over four months, for a total of 40 contact hours. Businesses must have three or more employees to apply. Both for- and nonprofit organizations will be considered. Application information (beginning in June), guidelines and eligibility are detailed online at

Though the Small Business Executive Program will be held in Tallahassee, its director invites any business in the 850 region to apply. Attendance is mandatory for two half-day sessions each month from August to October, with a closing luncheon in November tying directly into the “Advice Straight Up” event featuring nationally recognized speakers.

“Because the program meets only twice a month,” Campbell said, “if an executive is willing to come to our location to advance their business — and they are in the 850 region and they qualify to participate — we will welcome them.”

A Tri-fold Mission

The SBEP will be the flagship program and the primary entry point for small businesses to the broader services the JMI has to offer.

Those services are trifold and reflect the main components of the Institute’s mission — education, research and outreach. Education covers the student experience, research examines issues of the discipline and outreach provides unique opportunities for students to engage in crossover with working entrepreneurs. 

Jim Moran Institute programs revolve around four major service offerings:

» World-class education and experiential learning curriculum

» Academic research and applied training 

» Consulting assistance and mentorship 

» Public recognition through service

“We interpreted the need by recognizing our business owners are so busy running their business, they don’t always have time to think about their business,” Blass said. “They are asking for some structure — a formatted journey through all aspects of running a business.”

Categories: Business