Columbus Office

About Us

Address:
3100 Gentian Blvd., Suite 119
Columbus, GA 31907

Contact:
Phone: (706) 569-2651
Fax: (706) 569-2657
Email: columbus@georgiasbdc.org

 

 

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Featured Program

#CyberStrength – October 15, 2019
12 Aug 10:59 am

#CyberStrength will explore and challenge the business owner/IT professional to prepare and strengthen their cybersecurity plan.

Consultants & Staff

Todd Carlisle

Todd Carlisle

Area Director

Prior to joining the SBDC, Todd worked in the areas of banking and logistics. During his four year banking tenure, Todd worked at Columbus Bank and Trust in various capacities, including underwriting, branch management, and lending. He also spent several years as a logistics manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. During his time at Wal-Mart, Todd managed the day-to-day operations of various departments and provided support to other facilities in the areas of alternate training, coaching, and production techniques.


Education

  • BA, COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY (History)
  • MBA, TROY UNIVERSITY (Business Administration)

Experience

  • COLUMBUS BANK AND TRUST COMPANY (Branch Manager)
  • DANIEL CONSTRUCTION (Carpenter)
  • WAL-MART (Logistics Manager)

Accomplishments

  • 2012 Flewellen Award for Consulting Excellence
  • 2013 QuickBooks Certification
  • Alumni of Retail Banking School for Synovus
  • Alumni of Leadership Columbus Class of 2012
  • National Conference Presenter

Leadership

  • Small Business Recognition Committee for the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Additional Information

  • My primary interest is walking alongside business owners as a trusted advisor and resource to help them obtain their goals. One of the main ways I can do that is by helping my clients understand the financial side of the business. Outside of the office I enjoy going to the gym, running with my bride of 6 years, and spending time with our son.

Contact

Phone: (706) 569-2651

Deborah Free

Deborah Free

Administrative Assistant

Often the first point of contact, Deborah’s goal is providing clients with information exercising optimum customer service enriching their experience by creating a friendly comfortable business environment.  As an Administrative Assistant, Deborah provides day-to-day staff support for the University of Georgia SBDC Office in Columbus operations and takes delight in seeing the office running smoothly.

Her other areas of responsibilities are marketing and coordinating University of Georgia SBDC events through multiple social media platforms as well as traditional methods of publicity. Along with organizing events, her duties include preparing promotional materials for seminars, workshops, and other training programs; registrations and retaining event files.

She received a certificate for attending the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program ten week course. This course educates people regarding disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Deborah was a recipient of The UGA Small Business Development Center 2013 Support Staff of the Year Award.

Previous to her employment at University of Georgia SBDC, Deborah worked for the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce in the Small Business Development and Governmental Affairs Department as a member of the support staff. Serving as a team member with other companies which includes Aflac, Oak and Pine Manor Nursing and Revlon, where she has gained extensive experience in the human resources, sales, administrative support and customer service.

First priority for Deborah is God and family. Deborah and John have been blissfully wedded for over 16 years. Together, they share 7 children and 13 grandchildren.  She devotes her spare time to family, friends, Auburn football and scrapbooking.

Contact

Phone: (706) 569-2651

Email: dfree@georgiasbdc.org

Michelle Griffin

Michelle Griffin

Consultant

Michelle brings over 15 years of business experience. The majority of those years were dedicated to the Columbus, Georgia community as a local banker where she served in the areas of management, retail lending, training and development, sales, and operations. Michelle also spent time in human resource management and worked with the Georgia Department of Labor where she facilitated group workshops and provided guidance on the state unemployment and employment programs. Currently, Michelle and her family own a local business where she is responsible for customer service, business development, and human resource management. For her dedication to service and community outreach, Michelle has been recognized as a 5 under 40 professional as well as a distinguished woman in the community.


Education

  • MS, TROY UNIVERSITY (Human Resource Management)
  • BA, GEORGIA SOUTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY (Human Resource Management)

Experience

  • COLUMBUS BANK AND TRUST (Assistant Vice President, Banking Manager)
  • WELLS FARGO FINANCIAL (Credit Manager)
  • GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (Employment Services & Training Specialist)
  • TIC FEDERAL CREDIT UNION (Human Resource Specialist)

Leadership

  • Member, National Society for Human Resource Management
  • Member, Society for Human Resource Management, Columbus Chapter
  • Advisory Board, Better Business Bureau
  • Volunteer, Chattahoochee Valley Boys and Girls Club
  • Member, Community Emergency Response Team
  • Board of Directors & Vice Chair, Past Member/Officer, Columbus Libraries
  • Board of Directors, Past Member/Officer, Chattahoochee Valley Regional Libraries
  • Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals, Past Member/Chair of the
  • Leadership Enrichment Committee
  • Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Past Volunteer Small Business Committee
  • Ronald MacDonald House, Past Volunteer
  • Relay for Life, Past Volunteer
  • “Ladies Act This Way”, Late Marshall Middle School, Past Mentor
  • Recognized “ 5 Under 40” Columbus in the Valley Magazine
  • Recognized “Top Manager” Retail Branch Banking Group
  • Speaks within the community to local schools, organizations, and church groups, on banking, business, and leadership topics

Contact

Phone: (706) 569-2651

Resources

  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
    Website: www.sba.gov
    Phone: 404-331-0100

Chattahoochee

  • Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce
    Website: www.columbusgachamber.com
    Phone: 706-327-1566
  • Chamber of Commerce Chattahoochee County
    Phone: 706-989-3700
  • River Valley Regional Commission – Chattahoochee Co. Economic Development
    Website: www.rivervalleyrc.org
    Phone: 706-256-2910
  • UGA Extension – Chattahoochee County
    Phone: 706-653-4200
  • Georgia USDA Rural Development State Office
    Business and Cooperatives Programs Division: 706-546-2154
    Dawson Sub-Area Office for Chattahoocee Co.: 229-995-5811
    http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices/ga

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Our Blog

Remembering Former UGA Business Dean and National Legacy

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On March 26, 2019
Former University of Georgia business dean, William C. Flewellen, Jr., 100 years-of-age, passed away Tuesday, March 12, 2019. He leaves behind a national legacy for business education and small business assistance as he was the driving force behind the creation of the national Small Business Develop Center (SBDC) program. Flewellen, who was named dean of […]
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Knowledge, Networking and Persistence Bring Disaster Relief to Mid-Georgia Manufacturer

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On February 13, 2019
MF&H Textiles is Taylor County’s largest single-point private employer with nearly 50 employees. Its 19-acre campus between Columbus and Macon was dead in the path of Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017. Irma’s gale force winds damaged the roof surface of MF&H’s main production facility. “Irma ripped off 20 percent of the synthetic roofing membrane […]
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2018 Flewellen Award Winners

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On May 9, 2018
Throughout the year, there are many consultants that go above and beyond “the call of duty,” to ensure that their clients are taken care of and succeed. Each year at our Annual Awards Banquet, the UGA SBDC names deserving consultants, “Flewellen Award Winners.” This recognition is named for Dr. William Flewellen, who is considered to […]
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Why Small is Great

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On February 28, 2018
Entrepreneurial ventures provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in Georgia for both business owners and employees. Small businesses not only supply principal income for families, but they also meet unique needs for part-time employment, temporary employment, supplementary income, or, particularly for many young people, that first job opportunity. The innovation and creativity that entrepreneurs deliver […]
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5 Steps to Strengthening Your Cyber Presence

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On February 19, 2018
“If you are not concerned about cybersecurity, you don’t know enough about the topic yet.” – Raef Meeuwisse Strengthening your online, cybersecurity presence is a balancing act along a continuum: On one end lies convenience, using technology to manage our lives by the simplest and quickest method possible and, at the other extreme, security, protecting our […]
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Facebook Zero is Coming!

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On January 26, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg’s goal with Facebook has always been to bring people together. Over the years though, Facebook has accidentally shifted away from being consumer focused and has taken on the roll of being a quick, inexpensive, and targeted vehicle for digital marketing, as well as for gaming and online shopping. I don’t know about you, […]
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40 Years of Small Business Development Center at UGA

  • Posted by Sara Bertolini
  • On August 28, 2017
Who would have thought that an idea in 1975, promoted by William C. Flewellen, Jr., former Dean of the University of Georgia College of Business Administration, would flourish into a network of almost 1,000 service centers at colleges and universities across the country. With Flewellen’s vision and former UGA President Fred Davidson’s support of what […]
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Continual Learning Leads to Continual Growth for Columbus Sign Business

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On August 21, 2017
Richie Grantham first came to the UGA SBDC in Columbus in 2008. He had purchased Sunshine Banners and Signs and was seeking guidance on how to best structure this business and prepare it for growth. The SBDC’s GrowSmart program was accepting applications, so Grantham applied and was accepted. After attending the five-week program, Grantham learned […]
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“If I Only had Known…”

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On June 20, 2017
As one looks to enter the world of entrepreneurship or expand their current business, the question is the same….What are some common mistakes or things we can avoid. Here are a few of them: Cash is King! Not having a large enough cash reserve in the beginning or in the growth stage of a business […]
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Path-Tec CEO Named 2017 Georgia’s Small Business Person of the Year Winner

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On March 23, 2017
“These small business owners define entrepreneurial spirit and best represent the 28 million small businesses that are the backbone and economic engine for today’s economy. I look forward to welcoming the winners to Washington next month when they are officially honored for their achievements.”
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National Entrepreneurship Week 2017

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On February 20, 2017
Each year, over six million new businesses launch and millions more grow. Join us in celebrating entrepreneurs as a community supporter.
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CyberStrength 2017 Conference

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On January 30, 2017
According to Timothy Francis, a leader in the cyber insurance field, 62 percent of cyber-breach victims are small and medium-sized businesses. How to Protect Your Small Business as Cybersecurity Threats Rise Small Business Trends Jun 3, 2016 by Larry Alton As digital interaction increases, small businesses have become an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals […]
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The NIST Small Business Information Security Fundamentals Guide

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On January 11, 2017
This Fundamentals guide aims to provide basic cybersecurity recommendations to small businesses. I have always stressed the necessity to improve cyber security posture for small businesses that are most exposed to threat actors across the world. Now the National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a cybersecurity guide to support small businesses in securing their […]
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10 Steps to Starting a Business

  • Posted by Ashley Panter
  • On January 3, 2017
Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. Click on the links to learn more.
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 4

The Answers are Different This Week…

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On January 3, 2017
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” For many of us, allocating time to plan becomes a significant challenge of priorities. Do we work on the urgent or the important today? Frequently, this becomes the question of the day. In most cases, […]
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CyberStrength 1.1: What is C.I.A.? (Understanding the Information Triad)

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On December 27, 2016
By Mark R. Lupo, CBCP Most of us are familiar with the three letter combination, CIA, with our minds immediately going to visions of international espionage and the Central Intelligence Agency.  When it comes to our digital information, though, these three letters take on a different meaning.  Within the digital realm, these three letters, C.I.A., […]
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Christmas, Giving, and “It’s a Wonderful Life”

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On December 21, 2016
As with many of us, one of the highlights of the Christmas season in our home is the watching of the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life”. Something about Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, one of innocence, hope, adventure and energy, rings true about the season and touches a part in all of us, I believe. […]
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13 Seconds…

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On November 29, 2016
By Mark Lupo, CBCP Back in the late fall of 2014, our UGA SBDC team conducted a tour of our service area of 11 counties in southwest Georgia.  Traveling through several counties, our travels put us in Meriwether County for the lunchtime hour and we decided to have lunch at the Bullock House. Many of […]
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A Time to Prepare…

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On November 22, 2016
As we enter this holiday season, preparing your family, your business, for the unexpected might not exactly be top of mind.  This time of year traditionally brings with it thoughts of the holidays, festive gatherings with family and friends, celebrations, and gift buying.  The holiday season doesn’t normally stimulate one to think, ‘What if…’ for emergency […]
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The Importance of Becoming…

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On November 15, 2016
By Mark Lupo, CBCP The scene unfolds in a large conference room set in the 1990’s.  The Internet is brand new and an emerging wild frontier.  Executives surround the impressive conference table in the center of the room, their attention focused on the large projection screen at the front of the room. On the screen […]
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Be Hard. Be Strong. Be Ready.

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On November 11, 2016
By Mark Lupo, CBCP Remembering those who have served this Veteran’s Day… “Let us always remember the sacrifices others have made that we may remain free.”  – M. Lupo The story goes that a U.S. Army Ranger unit was conducting a night operation over the skies of Central America. This particular unit had as its mission to […]
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 1

Building CyberStrength into your Business

  • Posted by Mark Lupo
  • On November 4, 2016
We believe that the cyber threat to small business is real and continuing to grow. Everyday each of us hear of the multiple incidents of cyber attacks hitting businesses around the country. Whether the attacks are criminal in nature, initiated through state actors, or from a lone hacker sitting at their computer, they each can […]
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