Speaker Series History & Benefactor
The Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Entrepreneur Bernard W. Simpkins to teach the fundamentals and success of entrepreneurship. The free one-hour seminars, held on the campuses of Eastern Florida State College or online, bring entrepreneurs to Brevard County to speak about their challenges and triumphs along their journey to economic success through innovative ideas. They also offer insight into today’s economic trends.
Since its inception, the lectures, which are held each spring and fall, have become a popular event for faculty, students, and business owners in Brevard County and surrounding areas. The seminars allow entrepreneurs to share how they started, what prompted them to become an entrepreneur, the characteristics and traits of an entrepreneur, and important decisions that enable entrepreneurs to have success.
Mr. Simpkins was an entrepreneur who worked in the petroleum business with convenience stores and owned a Toyota automobile dealership, a Goodyear tire distributorship, and a Thrifty franchise car rental. Until his death in October 2020, Mr. Simpkins owned S & S Enterprises, Inc., based in Cocoa, Florida.
Bernie Simpkins once said, “Entrepreneurship is an open road to success for those who chose to invest hard work and determination. Saving what you earn to establish a beginning is a key to success."
His life embodied that philosophy, and Mr. Simpkins' generosity to Eastern Florida State College throughout his life is greatly appreciated.
In March 2000, Mr. Simpkins donated $250,000 to the college to establish an endowment known as the Business Seminar for Entrepreneurial Development.
In 2007, Mr. Simpkins became the college’s first $1 million donor for the development of an entrepreneurial curriculum program.