By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Amer-Plus Janitorial Maintenance started out as a mom-and-pop business. Over the years it has grown into a full functioning operation but it was almost derailed by the pandemic.

However, the company was able to pivot to success with help from FIU’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

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“I really had to recognize that I had never, as a small business owner, had never been through anything like this before,” said Amer-Plus CEO Stephannie Cetoute.

During the pandemic, the demand for sanitation services boomed. But those in the industry faced challenges, like securing basic supplies – like paper supplies.

“It was crazy, supplies were one of the things, you know, paper supplies, normal supplies we use in our daily operation, they were harder to get,” said Cetoute.

Another challenge was how to navigate the economic impact of the pandemic even with available state and federal support.

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That’s when Cetoute turned to the SBDC.

“For a lot of these businesses, it is an alphabet soup. It’s SBA, PPP, you have the RISE program from Miami-Dade County. Our consultants were able to identify the right program for the business to go after and hold their hands through the process until they had a check in hand,” said Brian Van Hook, Regional Director of FIU’s Small Business Development Center.

Cetoute said she was in a bit of a panic mode as the COVID economic crunch closed in but was able to pivot her attitude when the SBDC and their consultants stepped in.

“You got to get out of the panic mode and start thinking, so really FIU was there to assist in that process,” she said.

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Small businesses who want to get in contact with FIU’s SBDC can do so HERE.