Rafael Cruz, MBA, CGBP, EDFP (Regional Director)
Specialty: Strategic Planning, Branding, Marketing, Finance, Executive Development, Creative Economy, Non Profit Strategy, International Business
Rafael is the Regional Director in charge of all operations for the Florida Small Business Development Center serving Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. The Florida SBDC has the distinct honor of being designated by the legislature as the State of Florida’s “Principle Provider of Small Business Assistance.”
Under his leadership, the Florida SBDC Fort Lauderdale has produced consistent economic development results for the region and has become an important partner in the economic development community.
He leads a Team of Certified Business Consultants that work one on one with entrepreneurs and business owners in all critical aspects of starting, running and growing a successful business. Some key areas of the team’s specialization include international trade, government contracting, creative economy, financing, strategic planning and execution, and entrepreneurship.
Mike Bell, Lt Colonel ret. (Consultant)
Specialty: Government Procurement, Government Contracting, Women/Minority/Veteran Certification, Process and Quality Control.
Mike Bell is a Certified Business Consultant specializing in Government Procurement. Mr. Bell has a 40 plus year career background in operations and production in pharmaceuticals and high technology electronics. His experience covers planning, procurement, engineering, and production in both start-up companies and Fortune 25 companies, including facility layout and construction experience. Mr. Bell has considerable expertise in the design and delivery of employee training at all personnel levels. As an Army Lieutenant Colonel, he served as Faculty Director for the US Army Command & General Staff College.
Mr. Bell brings a solid business philosophy to support our clients. He is a highly sought after presenter and trainer in the area of Government Procurement and is often invited out of state to give presentations at major business conferences.
Anil Chang, MBA, CGBP, EDFP (Consultant)
Specialty: International Trade, Export Market Planning, Market Research, Finance
Anil Chang is a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) specializing in work with companies interested in expanding their markets via International Trade. Prior to joining the SBDC, Mr. Chang was the Procurement and Logistics Manager for a privately held international trade company. He is well versed in export documentation and working with suppliers and clients both internationally and domestically.
Mr. Chang is also Certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) and works with clients on finance and financial analysis.
Mr. Chang received his Masters of Business Administration degree from Florida International University and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University.
Parbatee Chang, MBA, CGBP (Consultant)
Specialty: International Trade, Export Market planning, Quality Management Systems, Continuous Improvement, Strategic Audits.
Parbatee Chang is a Certified Business Consultant specializing in work with companies interested in expanding their markets via International Trade. She is also a highly respected and sought after expert in the areas of Quality Management Systems and Accreditation and Quality Audits . Mrs. Chang develops export marketing plans for clients and is a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP). She also holds an Executive Certificate of Global Finance from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Mrs. Chang brought eighteen years of experience to the SBDC, including having served as the Executive Director of the Trinidad & Tobago Bureau of Standards. She was also the Vice Chair of the Caricom Common Market Standards Council; a Board Member of the ISO General Council in Geneva, and worked closely with industry, private and public sector. She acquired training in Ireland, England, Canada, Argentina, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Italy, Tunisia and the Caribbean.
She was the owner of a successful flower shop business which she sold and which still operates successfully today. She has also been a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and has done work with over thirteen countries re: World Trade Organization/Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. She is also a certified FastTrac Trainer and an ISO 9000 Lead Auditor. Mrs. Chang is the author of “Strategic Audits – A Necessity for Transforming Businesses” which was given a Five Star (out of five rating) by Foreword Reviews. She has delivered presentations at the ASBDC, FSBDCN and NASBITE Conferences.
Gary Cole, MBA (Consultant)
Specialty: Access to Capital, Business Financing, Loan Development, SBA 7a & 504 Loans, Business Planning, Franchising, Buying/Selling Businesses, Exit Strategy.
Gary Cole is a Certified Business Consultant specializing in finance and loan package development. He was employed as a National Bank Examiner with the United States Comptroller of the Currency where he examined National Banks in the Southeastern United States. After four years as a National Bank Examiner, he joined the private banking sector taking various positions in the lending area of banking for the next twenty-seven years. His highest position was Executive Vice President in charge of all lending activity in a three bank holding company having 12 offices in South Florida.
Next in his career, he became an entrepreneur and opened a successful flooring company which he ran for 14 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech and an MBA in Finance from the University of Miami. Mr. Cole served in the Army National Guard for six years attaining the rank of Specialist E6.
Opal Comfort (Consultant)
Specialty: Public Relations, Communication/ Marketing, Media Relations
Working for local and national television programs, Opal Comfort brings years of broadcasting experience to the SBDC team. As a researcher for the Nightly Business Report, talk show host and features reporter, Comfort has worked extensively in the media industry.
Her awards and recognitions include: an Emmy Award, Two International Association of Business Communicators Golden Pen Awards, the National Entertainment Industries Council Award, and the National Education Association Award.
After leaving broadcasting, Comfort went on to serve as public information director for the cities of Miami Beach and Miami. She managed the media, film, special events and public relations departments for both major cities and worked in Public relations management for the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald.
As an independent consultant, Opal produced documentaries and LIVE television productions. Comfort later became the manager of the Sun-Sentinel Children’s Fund in Fort Lauderdale and left that position to become the community relations manager for the Miami Herald. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree from New Mexico State University.
George E. Gadson, MA (Consultant)
Specialty: Business Start-ups, Business Plan, Non Profit Strategy and Development, Minority Owned Businesses, Artist Development, Web Development
George E. Gadson is a Certified Business Consultant specializing in working with creative economy entrepreneurs. He has over 20 plus years of management experience with large banking Institutions, as well as small private and public corporations. He has worked in economic development as the former Vice President of Business Development at the Broward Alliance (currently the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance), Principal Planner of regional economic development for the South Florida Regional Planning Council, and Associate Director for Business and Corporate Development at Florida Atlantic University.
Mr. Gadson is one of Florida’s most well-known and highly sought after artist and has been commissioned to create works of art for many high profile events and individuals. In 2008 he was invited to create an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree. In 1995 and 1999 he created two South Florida Super Bowl bronze commemorative sculptures named “The Quarterback” and “The Kicker” . Each sculpture was given to the National Football League Team owners. Working in a variety of mediums, he has also created a bronze relief portrait sculptures for Darden Restaurants and JM Family Enterprises, Inc., (a Fortune 100 company), and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Mr. Gadson holds a Bachelors of Art from Duke University, completed studies at the University of Valencia in Spain.
He received his Master of Art in Education in 2008 from Brewer Christian College and Graduate School. He also holds a Leadership Development Certification and Development Dimensions International Certification (an international performance skills training and consulting company). Zenger Miller- Achieve Global Training Certification (an international performance skills training and consulting company). Lean Six Sigma Excellence-Brown Belt- Harrington Institute, Inc.
He has done graduate studies in Nonprofit Management at Florida Atlantic University and is sought after by non profits for leadership development and strategic planning. A small selection of his many community involvements include, Jim Moran Foundation- Board Member, United Negro College Fund- Regional Advisory Council, City of Tamarac Public Art Board – Chairman, Cultural Foundation of Broward- Board Member, Artist as Entrepreneur Institute- Faculty, City of Tamarac Economic Development Foundation, Stranahan House-Past Board Member, Leadership Broward Alumni- Class XX, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Uptown Business Council- Board Member.
Jazmine Loiselle (Consultant)
Specialty: Strategic Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Website Maximization, SEO.
As a talented designer and educator, Jazmine Loiselle enjoys imparting her knowledge to help others succeed. She has held creative positions with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Levi Strauss and Apple Computer. She has a wealth of knowledge in content management, creative direction, web and print design, E-learning, and digital photography.
A favorite quote by Steve Jobs sums up her outlook. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. –Steve Jobs.
Ms. Loiselle has been a marketing communications director, college faculty and successful entrepreneur. She is known as a tenacious digital media specialist who looks to find smart solutions. In addition, she specialized in creative technology training San Francisco State University and graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As a consultant for the SBDC Fort Lauderdale, Loiselle enjoys tackling the online challenges businesses face in marketing their brand, creating content and engaging audiences.
Her expertise includes creative direction, technology management and marketing campaigns. From luxury real estate, major retail and software, Loiselle has extensive creative design experience. Her background in diverse industries gives her the ability to assist a variety of businesses and help them reach their marketing goals. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst.
Angel Rentas (Consultant)
Specialty: Access to Capital, Business Financing, Loan Development, SBA 7a & 504 Loans, Business Planning.
Angel Rentas is a Certified Business Consultant for the SBDC specializing in finance and loan package development. Mr. Rentas has more than 35 years of experience in banking and finance and as a portfolio manager serving private and public corporations. Most recently he has served as Finance Vice President in charge of business development and the SBA Guaranty Loan Program for a major bank. In 1983, Mr. Rentas started his banking career with Barnett Bank where he worked in the credit department analyzing financial statements. Then he became a Commercial Lending Officer. He then joined the US Small Business Administration (disaster loan program) in Miami and later served in Chicago, IL, Los Angeles and Sacramento, CA.
Mr. Rentas graduated from the Harford Institute of Accounting with an Accounting Degree concentrating in Business Administration. Since 1975 he has been working with different Business Development organizations including the Office of Minority Business Enterprise, the National Economic Development Association and the Hialeah Dade Development, Inc. as Business Financial Analyst.
Teri Takahashi (Consultant)
Specialty: Business Planning, Accounting
Teri Takahashi is a Certified Business Consultant and our Business and Training Manager at the Florida SBDC in Fort Lauderdale. She oversees the budget and records functions of the SBDC operation. She also works with clients to develop business plans for start-ups and existing companies. Ms. Takahashi owned her own successful property management company.