IMAGE COURTESY SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM HONORING THE BEST IN BUSINESS — The 2022 Quad City Business Hall of Fame, put on by the Small Business Development Program and co-sponsored by the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance, is intended to motivate West Volusia businesses to stay in business, especially after most of them persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nominations are already being accepted for the inaugural class of a Hall of Fame featuring businesspeople from West Volusia.

A nonprofit organization called Small Business Development Program Inc. — which is not a local, state or federal government agency — is behind the creation of the showcase of notable businesspeople and their accomplishments in the 2022 Quad City Business Hall of Fame.

The Small Business Development Program was founded in North Carolina in 1997 and incorporated in 2009. The organization set up shop in Orange City in 2013 and is currently a member of the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance, said Francine Lucas, the organization’s community-affairs liaison.

“Quad City” refers to the four cities — DeBary, Deltona, DeLand and Orange City — in which SBDP originally was helping businesses when it set up shop locally. Lake Helen and DeLeon Springs (which actually is not a municipality) were added later, Lucas told The Beacon.

SBDP helps mostly smaller companies in starting, maintaining and expanding their businesses through real-time resources and real-time hands-on assistance.

“We can help businesses file for grants or other funding sources, or help them get the paperwork they need to register with the state,” Lucas said. “We will actually do a lot of the work while teaching it to them so they can do it themselves later.”

A client has to become a member of SBDP to receive its services, she said, but the services are free. A six-month membership costs $34, and a one-year membership costs $75. Memberships can be renewed as often as a member wants.

“We don’t take a percentage of any grants they get or charge for any services while they’re a member,” Lucas said. “We currently have 275 members nationwide, and 72 and growing in Volusia County.”

SBDP’s income consists of membership fees, grants, and some city and state sponsors, she said.

The 2022 Quad City Business Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by the DeLand Area Chamber, is intended to motivate West Volusia-based businesses to stay in business, especially after most of them persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also show area businesses that the community celebrates their efforts, Lucas said.

“We want to celebrate businesses for all they’re doing, and honor businesses that stayed open during the pandemic,” she said. “We hope this becomes an annual event.”

Nominations can be made at no charge, but a nominee must be a member of SBDP, Lucas said. There are more than a dozen categories in which business owners and employees can be nominated: good health and well-being; quality education; media and communication; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; excellence in dining and catering; zero hunger (such as food pantries); peace and justice institutions; climate action; housing and realty services, building for good; and community growth and development.

Nominations must be made by midnight Thursday, April 28. Winners will be honored at a celebratory dinner, tentatively set for Friday, May 20, at a site still to be confirmed.

Nominations must be made on www.smallbusinessdevelopmentprogram.us. Click on the “More” tab, then on “Special Event” to get qualifying information about nominees and to make reservations for the dinner.

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