May 2014 WMADO Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

May 2014

Washington Metropolitan Area District Office May Newsletter

Brought to you by the WMADO

Message from the District Director

Antonio Doss

The upcoming summer season brings a noticeable uptick of activity, which we embrace as part of our service to the small business community.

In April, we had an exciting launch of our inaugural Emerging Leaders program in the District of Columbia.  The talent on the program and the diverse class of 2014 bodes well for a truly memorable experience.  I offer my sincere thanks to Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards for inspiring us at our event.

Small Business Week also was a rousing success where we acknowledged the accomplishments of our small businesspersons of the year: LaKeshia Grant, Harold Charles, and Kevin Knight; and offered targeted networking and roundtable discussions with our resource and strategic partners.  Congratulations to M&T Bank and Business Finance Group for leading the way through the infusion of capital, which is the life blood of small business.

Lastly, we pause to thank the dedicated men and women of our military. Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month as a way to ensure the nation was given the opportunity to publically demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our servicemembers. 

Congratulations to WMADO's Small Businesspersons of the Year, Lenders of the Year

2014 Winners

During National Small Business Week, WMADO recognized three small businesspersons and two lenders for excellence in what they do. At a ceremony held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Antonio Doss, District Director, congratulated the winners: LaKeshia Grant, Harold Charles, and Kevin Knight.  Mr. Doss also acknowledged the loan activities of M&T Bank and Business Finance Group. 

From left: Ralph Buchanan, Assistant District Director (Acting), Harold Charles, LaKeshia Grant, Kevin Knight, and Antonio Doss, District Director. 

LaKeisha Grant

Working out of her home with $11,000 from her personal savings, LaKeshia Grant started Virtual Enterprise Architects in October 2007. She received her first subcontract to General Dynamics within three months. Fast forward to three years later, VEA became an 8(a) firm on November 22, 2010, has supported over nine federal agencies and employs nearly 50 people.

“We used the free training provided to us by the Washington Metropolitan Area District Office to respond to Request for Proposals, establish financial reporting, market to the government and improve operations management." said Ms. Grant. "In addition, we were selected as the face of the HUBDC program by SBA for our work. The SCORE office in Vienna, VA, also helped us with our business plan.”

Harold Charles

CEEPCO began as a small design-build company in Harold Charles’ Burtonsville, MD, basement in 2003.  The international engineering firm grew with assistance from SCORE.

The firm has two offices in Haiti. About a year ago they moved from a 1,500 SF office in Beltsville, MD, to a 4,500 SF office in Silver Spring, MD, to house 10 corporate employees and 50 more in their field offices.

 "The SBA 8(a) program is the key to our success," said Mr. Charles. "Without this development program for small disadvantaged businesses, we would not be where we are now. It put the company on a higher level allowing it to win opportunities and exceed our customers expectations."  

Kevin Knight

An Army training accident injured Kevin Knight’s eyes, and forever changed his career path. Two detached retinas forced him to retire from the military, and in the time it took him to heal, he developed a clear insight into what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. With mentoring from a Small Business Development Center and a $50,000 SBA Patriot Express loan, he started Knight Solutions, a Leesburg, Virginia-based business with 164 mostly veteran employees who provide renovation, operation and facility maintenance at national cemeteries throughout the USA. 

"I needed capital to start my business," said Mr. Knight. "Getting an SBA Patriot Express loan was very easy. I worked with my lender, who checked my credit because I didn't have invoices or collateral. The SBA loan helped tide me over until I got my first contract and I paid off the loan in the first year of business."

M&T Bank Makes 137 Loans Totaling $22 million

Carl Hairston, M&T Bank

Founded in 1856, M&T Bank Corp. is one of the 20 largest U.S. commercial bank holding companies, with more than 700 branch offices and 1,500 ATMs in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Carl Hairston, Administrative Vice President of M&T Bank and National Capital Business & Professional Banking, Regional Manager accepts the award from Natalia Olson-Urtecho, Regional Administrator – Region III, and Antonio Doss, District Director.  

Business Finance Group Makes 50 Loans Worth $46.5 Million 

During FY 2013, Business Finance Group made 50 loans worth to $46,553,000. BFG is a non-profit Certified Development Corporation providing commercial mortgages to small businesses through the SBA 504 loan program.

Over BFG’s 32-year history, nearly 2,800 small businesses have received $3.4 billion in project financing resulting in the creation of over 33,000 jobs. Senior Vice President Wayne Williams, center, accepts the award from Natalia Olson-Urtecho, Regional Administrator – Region III, and Antonio Doss, District Director.  

Biz Finance Group

From right: Natalia Olson-Urtecho, Regional Administrator – Region III, handed out awards to Kevin Knight, LaKeshia Grant, Harold Charles, as Antonio Doss, District Director, looked on. 

Winners with Natalia

Emerging Leaders Kick-Off is a Great Start

Washington Emerging Leaders

What a start!  On April 28 WMADO launched SBA's inaugural Emerging Leaders initiative in Washington, DC. Emerging Leaders is an executive-level training program offered to firms with the capacity to take their businesses to the next level through a combination of intensive classroom instruction, peer-to-peer interaction and networking.

While this is the first year for WMADO, the Emerging Leaders training program has seen great success in other cities. Since inception, 2,000 businesses have completed the intensive seven-month program.  These firms reported an average of 40 percent revenue growth.  Nearly half of them secured federal, state and local contracts worth a cumulative total of $330 million.  Also, since completing their Strategic Growth Action Plans, these businesses have accessed more than $26 million in new financing. 

Emerging Leaders group shot

From left: Antonio Doss, District Director; Eric Franklin, President Erimax Inc.; Robert Summers, Director DSLBD; Jyothi Bhargava, CEO PHR Swingtech Consulting Inc.; Ellen Thrasher, Director of Entrepreneurial Education; Nicole Nelson, Emerging Leaders National Program Manager; Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator Entrepreneurial Development; and Natalia Olson-Urtecho, Regional Administrator – Region III.

Donna Edwards

Our kickoff was held at the United States Capitol Visitor Center and featured a series of guest speakers, each offering encouragement and guidance to the new class. Hearing the inspirational words of Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD-4th District), left, we cannot wait to see the businesses that become the next big thing as a result of the instruction that will be given.  Further as the (Baltimore) graduates Eric Franklin and Jyothi Bhargava explained, these individual CEOs will look back and see that they have in fact become very close, sparking new lifetime connections.

Over the next few months, WMADO will be working to bring out the best in these entrepreneurs and as this will be the springboard to “Step It Up!” with targeted strategies to accelerate growth, explore financing, diversify markets, and expand networking. 

Emerging Leaders

Welcome Emerging Leaders Class of 2014!
Joy Anderson, Chris Bloyer, Darryl Britt, Courtney Fairchild, Dwight Franklin, Andres Echeverri, Errin Green, Angela Harpalani, Robyn Holden, Renee Holmes, Sunny Kim, Jerry McCargo, Michael Russalesi, Ola Sage, Ali Sajjad, Ravinder Singh, Sophia Tong, Michael Thornton, Sr., Lavonda Graham-Williams, and Jacqueline Woodard.

Business You Can Start Under $5,000

Oftentimes SCORE clients are seeking advice from mentors about starting a home based business as they are near retirement or considering leaving their current job to begin the journey to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur magazine published an article titled: Need a Business Idea? Here are 55 and suggested some businesses you can start for less than $5,000 such as:

Event Planning - Visit and tour potential event locations for an estimate of their space, site logistics and equipment, and pricing. Seek out prospecting opportunities to plan for corporate events, wedding, showers, engagement parties, etc. 

Personal Trainer - Advertise in places like restaurants, food markets, fitness centers, local newspapers, and have all necessary certification required in your state to help your clients get fit and avoid injury.

Property Management - For rental units, you will need to make sure property owners and renters obligations are met and the property is running smoothly. 

SCORE encourages all entrepreneurs and small businesses to find the nearest SCORE location at and take advantage of the expert and free mentoring today. Contact Dee Rogers, SCORE Mentor, Washington DC, SCORE, 3rd Street, SW, Suite 100A, Washington, DC 20024. 

Weather Expert Offers 2014 Hurricane Season Forecast

You are invited to join SBA and cosponsor Agility Recovery for tips on protecting your business this hurricane season, which starts June 1. Dr. Gerry Bell, a global climate expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will share the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast during a free webinar Tuesday, May 27, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT. After the weather discussion, Agility Recovery will present disaster preparedness tips, share lessons learned and best methods to prepare your business for the season. 

Space is limited. Register at

WMADO in the Community

Lorraine Scott leaves for Seattle, Washington

The office gives its fondest wishes to Lorraine Scott, Business Opportunity Specialist, as she moves to Seattle, WA.

District Director Antonio Doss and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet listen as business owner Shad Lorenz talks about how the Boots to Business program inspired him to start CrossFit Thunderstorm in Germantown, MD.



Administrator Maria Contreras Sweet and Antonio Doss, District Director
Antonio Doss speaks at Antonio Doss presented opening remarks at Exporting/Global Opportunities

Antonio Doss, District Director, addresses the audience at Global Expansion through Exporting: New Markets, New Opportunities in Tyson's Corner, VA.

District Director Antonio Doss chats with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in Tyson's Corner, VA.

Va. Governor Terry McAuliffe and Antonio Doss
Natalia Olson Uretecho

Natalia Olson-Urtecho, Regional Administrator – Region III, at the White House Initiative for Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Opening Ceremony marking the beginning of a month-long celebration to celebrate and honor the accomplishments that generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made throughout American history.

District Director Antonio Doss encourages the audience to become Encore Entrepreneurs at AARP's HQ in Washington, DC. At far right is Ellen Thrasher, Director of Entrepreneurial Education.



Antonio Doss speaks at AARP
Anthony Ruiz

Anthony Ruiz, Assistant District Director/8(a) Business Development, counsels small business owners during the matchmaking segment of the annual HP Small Business Conference held in Herndon, VA.   



Top 10 Lenders (by number of loans) in the Washington Metropolitan Area

April (10/01/2013 to 04/30/2014)

top 10 loan chart