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Small Business Development Center Advisor at JCC Receives National Award

Robin E. Stephenson, advanced certified business advisor, of the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Jefferson Community College (JCC) is the recipient of a 2015 Boots to Business Instructor of the Year Award bestowed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Out of 200 candidates nationwide, only 5 were selected to receive the prestigious Boots to Business Instructor of the Year designation, and were guests of honor at the SBA Annual Veterans Small Business Week event held in Washington, DC. Candidates of the Boots to Business Instructor of the Year Award are given consideration based on best practices, planning and preparation, instructional methods, evaluation and leadership and management of a class.

Boots to Business is a training course for transitioning military service members who are entering the workforce and choose to use their skills obtained in service to start a business. Stephenson presents the Boots to Business program at Fort Drum on a monthly basis through the Soldier for Life and Transition Assistance program. Prior to that program, Stephenson and the SBDC had already been offering a three-hour entrepreneurship training seminar on a quarterly basis at Fort Drum. As the demand for entrepreneurial training increased, Stephenson began presenting a 2-hour briefing several times a month on business startup. When the Boots to Business program was rolled out in 2013, she was able to make the transition go smoothly, allowing Fort Drum to have the new program go live more than a full year ahead of many other locations.

“This is the second time that the Watertown SBDC at JCC has received national recognition,” says Eric F. Constance, regional SBDC director. “The first time was in 2010 when we received top honors as being the #1 SBDC in the nation out of over 1,000 SBDCs and then today Robin Stephenson being selected as one of the top 5 instructors across the nation.”   

Stephenson joined the SBDC at JCC in 1989 as an office manager and in 2005 became a business advisor. In 2012, she received her Advanced Business Advisor certification. She holds an associate degree from Jefferson and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego.