Client Feature · Economic Growth and Development · Entrepreneurship

Rising Star Award presented to Valentina Escobar Gonzalez, founder of social media consulting business

Valentina Escobar

Original article by Johnson City Press


America’s Small Business Development Centers have a major impact on economic development across the nation, including the Tri-Cities. The Tennessee Small Business Development Center at East Tennessee State University helped to create 25 new businesses in 2018.

Governor Bill Lee recognized SBDC Day recently, an opportunity to celebrate the small business community, especially those entrepreneurs who take advantage of the education programs, technical assistance and consultation services made available by Small Business Development Centers across the state.

Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock read Lee’s proclamation during a local SBDC Day event held when Valentina Escobar Gonzalez was presented with the Rising Star Award, which is given annually to a company that best exemplifies not only business success, but also an outstanding working relationship with the TSBDC and use of its services.

The award was presented to Gonzalez by her TSBDC counselor Aundrea Wilcox, senior business counselor for TSBDC and director of the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship. Wilcox provided startup assistance, business plan development and guidance for Gonzalez as she started Beyond Engagement — Social Media Solutions in 2012. Gonzalez offers consulting services for businesses looking to engage potential customers on social media and leads workshops on a variety of social media-related topics at the TSBDC.

“Working with the TSBDC has been a tremendous opportunity for my business and a catalyst for small business owners to grow through their usage of social media,” she said. “I’m honored to receive this award. Thanks to Aundrea Wilcox and Mark Bays for making this happen.”

The TSBDC, located in the Innovation Lab at 2109 W. Market St., first opened its doors in 1984 and is part of the College of Business and Technology at ETSU. Last year, TSBDC clients generated capital infusion through loans, grants and owner capital injections totaling over $16.7 million.

“Seeing the economic impact that TSBDC clients are making across our region and in the state of Tennessee is truly amazing,” said Mark Bays, director of the TSBDC. “One of the most exciting parts of my job is seeing the clients we work with succeed and thrive.”


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