There’s no greater feeling as a professional than being able to grow up and give back to your hometown; and it’s topped off when you’re recognized and rewarded for it. That’s how Lafayette’s Phillip Russo feels about being named the state’s top business consultant by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC).
Russo, a business consultant for LSBDC at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was named the 2018 LSBDC State Star, an award recognized by America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) that highlights a person who is an exemplary performer, makes a significant contribution to his or her state and shows a strong commitment to small business. Russo was recognized during America’s SBDC national conference in Washington, D.C., on September 4.
“It is a true honor to be recognized by the America’s SBDC on a national level,” Russo said. “Since the start of my career at LSBDC, the idea of achieving this honor was certainly a driver in my performance and how I approached my job each day.”
Since the start of his tenure in 2015, Russo has counseled more than 478 clients, helped entrepreneurs secure over $21.2 million in capital infusion, achieved 45 business starts and helped to create 163 full- and part-time jobs.
To date for the current federal fiscal year, Russo is credited as first in the network with 14 business starts and has helped clients reach $4.7 million in capital and create 35 jobs.
LSBDC State Director Rande Kessler said no one would ever think that “easy-going, quietly professional Phillip is really a consulting beast.”
“I’ll need to check our organization chart because I think he may have just reached the status of a stand-alone small business center all by himself,” Kessler said. “State Star seems a weak label.”
Russo has lived the majority of his life in Lafayette and Abbeville, and is a graduate of UL Lafayette with a degree in business administration. Russo said being able to work with entrepreneurs in the Acadiana region fuels his drive to help.
“It hits close to home in relation to my childhood and growing up in an entrepreneurial family,” Russo said. “I can empathize with the challenges that small business owners face while cheering for all of the successes and those who rise above the challenges.”
Russo’s commitment and support to entrepreneurship and economic development can’t be denied, as he touts many certifications to help start and grow businesses. He takes pride in sharing resources and business programs to entrepreneurs such as Louisiana Economic Development’s Small & Emerging Business Development Program and U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan guarantee programs.
He has worked with several clients who went through many trials and tribulations in securing a bank loan to get started or to expand but have finally achieved success. “These are situations I encounter during my counseling that are a testament of not giving up. The banking process is very difficult and it is quite gratifying to see it all come together,” Russo said.
LSBDC at UL Lafayette Director Heidi Melancon said she was honored to see someone from her team named as the 2018 Louisiana SBDC State Star.
“The center had such a great year—by far the best performance since our inception on campus since 1983,” Melancon said. “Phillip has been a great addition to our center. He is very diligent and works hard in building great client relationships based on integrity and trust.”
She said the key to their success in the Acadiana region in the last year derived from Russo’s tenacity in the follow-up process and understanding key metrics.
“He spends a substantial amount of time in working with his clients, but the real success lies in the aftermath in determining the outcome for each client,” Melancon said.
Russo also takes pride in working with veteran entrepreneurs. He spearheaded the first ReBoot Entrepreneurship Program and works with the Veterans’ Business Outreach Center to continue educating veterans and active service members interested in entrepreneurship.
Russo added, “The best part of my job is the joy that I experience in witnessing my clients open, expand or acquire a business.”
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About Louisiana SBDC
The LSBDC is Louisiana’s largest and most accessible source of assistance for entrepreneurs and provides business consulting to entrepreneurs at no cost. Designated as the state’s principal provider of small business assistance by Louisiana Economic Development, the LSBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. SBA, LED and participating institutions of higher education.