Credit: Upstate Business Journal
On July 12, the Greenville Small Business Development Council hosted more than 100 area leaders for their first ever Small Business Awards Ceremony. The application process for these awards started in December 2015. The application review process was conducted in the spring and included an in-person presentation from each of the finalists. Award winners were chosen in May and received their awards this past Tuesday.
The idea for this competition originated within the Greenville Area SBDC Advisory Board. The members of the board wanted to recognize the accomplishments of SBDC clients and show how Small Business Development Centers are impacting the community.
The Greenville Area Small Business Development Center is proud to honor these recipients for their hard work and contributions to the Upstate.
SMALL BUSINESS ALLY OF THE YEAR
Leighton Cubbage has motivated countless entrepreneurs in the Upstate. Whether it be his involvement with the Pacesetters group of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce or the Successful Entrepreneurship class he developed and manages, there are hundreds of individuals in the Upstate who can point to Leighton as their inspiration. When the Greenville SBDC developed the Small Business Ally of the Year, we wanted to recognize someone who had devoted substantial time and resources to the business community of the Upstate. Leighton’s accomplishments in business are reason enough for an award, but it’s his willingness to share his experiences with other entrepreneurs that truly distinguishes him.
Leighton received a degree in political science from Clemson University and began a career in telecommunications soon after graduation. Leighton co-founded Serrus Telecom Investments, which yielded significant above-average returns for stakeholders. His vision and pursuit of excellence for hyper-growth organizations resulted in notable achievements such as South Carolina Entrepreneur of the Year (1993) and INC 500 #128 (1995).
Leighton has also served on boards in the automotive, banking and healthcare industries, including two terms as chairman for the Greenville Health System, the largest health care organization in South Carolina. He currently serves as the chairman for the SC Venture Capital Authority.
There are a number of ways you can help a budding entrepreneur. Specifically, you can mentor a future business owner and pass along advice and encouragement that was learned over a lengthy career. Or you can provide access to resources and networks that may help an entrepreneur develop more areas of their business. Or lastly, you can provide financial resources that can help turn an entrepreneur’s dreams into a reality. Many individuals can and have assisted in one or two of these areas, but Leighton Cubbage has done all three.
As a mentor, he has worked closely with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce to assist with the PULSE and Pacesetters Young Professionals groups. He has regularly spoken at these events and provides direct knowledge about how to be successful, including his talk entitled “21 Ways to Win.” Leighton also established the Successful Entrepreneurship program that is a multiweek curriculum encouraging individuals to develop ventures that benefit the local community. He has had some of the most successful and influential businesspeople in the Upstate speak at these events, and the most impressive thing about this program is that Leighton has never charged a fee to attend.
Lastly, Leighton Cubbage has assisted entrepreneurs financially by serving as chairman for the SC Venture Capital Authority. The VCA was established in 2005 as an agency within the Department of Commerce to identify and select qualified professional investors who will invest in South Carolina companies. The authority is a seven-member board selected by the governor and state lawmakers. The VCA then provides guidance and direction for the South Carolina Venture Capital Fund and the South Carolina Technology Fund to provide equity or seed capital to South Carolina based firms that are emerging, expanding or relocating.
These are only a few examples of Leighton’s service to our small business community. The Greenville Area SBDC has an immense amount of respect for the professional accomplishments of Leighton Cubbage but his community involvement is what truly sets him apart.