SBA Massachusetts Newsletter | September 2016

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September 2016

National Hispanic Heritage Month Edition

U.S. Small Business Administration - Massachusetts District Office


Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.  > Read more

Lawrence Has Faith in ER Productions


 Pictured: Elena Rodriguez with City of Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera 

According to the 2010 Census, the City of Lawrence is home to the largest percentage (73.8%) of Hispanic and Latino communities in the Commonwealth. Moreover, the largest community represented in Lawrence is the Dominican Republic population (30,243); which happens to have the third largest concentration of Dominicans in the world – following the Dominican Republic and the Washington Heights community in New York City. 

One of the biggest challenges facing New Americans as they immigrate to cities such as Lawrence has been the language barrier.  Accessing services and programs to integrate in a new country can be extremely difficult without being able to understand information in your native language.  That’s why the City of Lawrence has been benefitting from innovative programs that are providing Spanish-language services to meet the accessibility needs of New Americans.  

A mother of two children, Elena Rodriguez came to the United States in 2013 with mostly her FAITH.  Elena got married here in the states and shortly thereafter – her husband died 2 months after marriage.  After the tragedy, she needed to stay active and attended a community event at the Lawrence Heritage Park where she met Eduardo Crespo and Janine Duran from EparaTodos (EforAll).  They told her about the launch of a new business training program held in Spanish and encouraged her to apply to become part of the first cohort.  

At first, she had an idea for a business in her head, but she didn’t know how to move forward with the language barrier and being new to the country. Because of EparaTodos breaking down cultural and language access barriers to entrepreneurial education, it was integral to helping transform her idea to a reality.  Elena made connections with a variety of supportive agencies in entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center – which helped guide her with the development of her business plan.  As a result of the inaugural EparaTodos program, Elena won the top prize of $1,500 in seed money to launch her event planning business - ER Productions!  

continued below...

2016 Growth Fund Accelerator Competition Winners Announced!

On August 31, 2016, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Investment and Innovation, Office of Native American Affairs, and Office of Veterans Business Development, along with the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education, announced 68 winners of SBA’s third annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.  The recipients will receive a total of $3.4 million in prizes to boost the economic impact of accelerators across 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Receiving the awards were the following:

  1. Entrepreneurship for All (Lowell)
    EforAll has developed a small business/nonprofit accelerator to foster entrepreneurial growth by, among other programs, pitch contests and public events. It seeks to foster community engagement by engaging community members and leaders as experts, judges, mentors, leadership advisory board members and by partnering with other community groups, and invests in promising ventures through monetary incentives and awards.

  2. Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (Worcester) 
    MBI collaborates with the academic, business, and government communities to promote Massachusetts as the world leader in the health sciences industry.  MBI focuses on job creation and innovative healthcare throughout Massachusetts by promoting growth of start-up biomedical companies, and creation of jobs within the biotechnology, medical device, informatics, and biomanufacturing industry. 

  3. North Shore Innoventures (Beverly)
    NSIV accelerates growth of innovative startups in the clean tech and biotech sectors, two of the strongest technology clusters in Massachusetts, and support economic development on the North Shore by launching new companies and creating high-quality, sustainable jobs.  NSIV provides promising young companies office space, shared laboratories and equipment, sponsored professional services, successful entrepreneur mentors, and investor advisers.

Did You Know?  Small Biz Counseling and Mentoring is Available EN ESPANOL


MEET: Awilda Irizarry, Senior Business Advisor 

Awilda has over seven years of experience in banking. Her areas of expertise include all phases of small business operations, including business planning, financing, and market research. Awilda is fluent in both English and Spanish, and is familiar with the Hispanic market from soup to nuts. As a business advisor, Awilda helps business owners build sales and marketing operations.    

With her unique combination of skills in strategic planning, marketing, sales, financing, business development and performance management, she has helped business owners launching successful businesses. 

Awilda holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Salem State University in geography and a Master’s degree from Lesley College in international relations. 


La señora Irizarry tiene sobre siete años de experiencia en la banca.  Sus áreas de conocimiento incluye todas las fases de operaciones de empresas incluyendo planeación, financiamiento, y análisis del mercado.  Awilda domina la lengua inglesa y española y esta muy familiarizada con el mercado hispano de la a la z.  Como consejera de negocios, Awilda ayuda a los empresarios a incrementar operaciones de ventas y mercadeo.    

Con su única combinación de destrezas en planeamiento estratégico, mercadeo, ventas, finanzas, desarrollo de negocios y gestión del rendimiento corporativo, ella ha ayudado a dueños de negocios arrancar negocios exitosos. 

Awilda es licenciada en Geografía por la Universidad de Salem y cuenta con un Máster de Relaciones Internacionales por la Universidad de Lesley.   > View Advising Locations

Success Story - continued from above

Coming from the Dominican Republic, Elena was deeply rooted in the Christian community and brought over 5 years of experience in putting on Christian events. Because she already had good relationships with pastors, churches and Christian artists – Elena was certain that her business idea could succeed.  She saw the same potential for a business in the United States after becoming part of the Hispanic Christian community over here. Her vision for ER Productions is to be the leading Hispanic Christian event planning company in the country; spreading Latin culture and Latin family values - where families can come together and enjoy a good time at a non-alcoholic event.  

In order to realize her visions for building a production company, Elena needed coaching and direction.  She began a mentor relationship with Awilda Irizarry of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center.  Partly funded by the SBA, Elena was able to receive free mentoring services in Spanish because of talented and dedicated counselors like Awilda.  Elena has been taking advantage of the service and started out building a strong relationship with Awilda by meeting once a week for two hours. The next step for Elena is to apply for a bank loan, so she worked with Awilda to get lender-ready and met every 15 days to finalize the business plan in English.  

On August 29th Elena officially launched ER Productions with her first concert partnering with an international band, Tercer Cielo.  The venue, Lawrence High School was packed with 1,257 people who came to the event.  She used the momentum of that successful kickoff event to start her second event which also made positive revenue. Today, Elena is already planning more big events with the City of Lawrence and go on tour with the bands she promotes. 

Through programs such as MSBDC and EparaTodos, she received the educational training and met contacts that were essential to launching her new company.  Elena recalls the excitement of seeing her dream become reality on that night of her first event.  The best part of her business she says – is seeing how people from different faiths come together to enjoy her events as a family.

E for All is one of three Growth Accelerator Fund Competition winners in Massachusetts, awarded $50,000 by the SBA to support entrepreneurial development. 


Working Capital Loans Available to Help Drought Impacted Small Businesses in Massachusetts 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations.   

  • As a result of the drought that began on July 5, 2016 Franklin and Worcester counties located in Massachusetts are eligible.  Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than May 1, 2017.

  • As a result of the drought that began on August 16, 2016 - Essex, Middlesex and Worcester counties located in Massachusetts are eligible.  Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than April 25, 2017.
  • As a result of the drought that began on August 30, 2016 - Bristol, Norfolk and Worcester counties located in Massachusetts are eligible.  Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than May 8, 2017.

These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary county in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster.  With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers.  Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions. 

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.  The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.  These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.  The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at:

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at  Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.  


On July 20th – Lisa Gonzalez-Welch EDS, participated in an Encore Entrepreneur event in Amesbury, Massachusetts as part of the Summer of Encore Mentoring initiative.  In partnership with the state AARP agency, Lisa facilitated a panel of experts to help entrepreneurs over 50 understand the local resources and steps to starting and growing a business.  The panel included: Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts; Lisa Gonzalez Welch, Economic Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration Massachusetts District Office; Bahar Thompson, Northeast SCORE Mentor Newburyport Branch Office; Walter Manninen, Senior Business Advisor Northeast Small Business Development Center; Madeleine Lutts, Program Assistant Center for Women and Enterprise - Eastern MA;  Entrepreneur – Tim J. Gould, M.Sc., HERS Rater / Ace Energy Services, Inc.


SBA Massachusetts District Office Donates 696.4 lbs of Food to Local Families


On August 24th - Norman Eng EDS/PIO talked about SBA programs and services at the Cape Verde Business Association Meeting in Dorchester. In the picture with Norman is Adalberto Teixeira, Director of Business Outreach & Engagement for the City of Boston. 


Hispanic Heritage Month Event: Capital and Contracts

Thursday, Sept 22
5:30pm - 8pm
Chelsea Chamber of Commerce
308 Broadway, Chelsea
Learn about how to access SBA loans and certifications to grow your business.  To Register or for more information, contact David Polatin at

Business Smart Workshop: FINANCING

Wednesday, Sept 14
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Hanson Town Hall Selectmen's Meeting Room
542 Liberty Street
Hanson, MA 02341
Learn about various financing options and what banks look for when lending money. 
To Register or for more information, contact Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett at

Are you over 50?
Encore Entrepreneurs 

Wednesday, Sept 28
8:30am - 11am
Fort Taber Community Center
1000A S. Rodney French Blvd.
New Bedford, MA
Join AARP and the SBA for a workshop to help you put your plans into action. Hear from experts and learn about programs and resources available through AARP, SBA and a network of local resource organizations. 

Opening Doors to
Federal Contracting (Southern MA)

Wednesday, Sept 28
3:30pm - 5:30pm
1213 Purchase Street (Entrance on Maxfield St., 1st Floor Conf. Room, New Bedford
Learn how the federal government purchases. Understand these federal certification’s application process and benefits: Small Disadvantaged Business, Women-Owned Small Business, Veteran and Service Disabled, 8(a) Business Development Program, and HUBZone Program.  Register

Opening Doors to
Federal Contracting (Boston MA)

Tuesday, Sept 20
7:30pm - 8:30pm
Roxbury Innovation Center
2300 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA
Learn how the federal government purchases. Understand these federal certification’s application process and benefits: Small Disadvantaged Business, Women-Owned Small Business, Veteran and Service Disabled, 8(a) Business Development Program, and HUBZone Program.  Register

Grow Your Business with SBA's 8A Business Development Program

Thursday, Sept 29
10am - 11:15am
10 Causeway St, RM265
Boston, MA 02222
This Program is intended for business development purposes to help socially and economically disadvantaged business owners: Gain a preference for federal contracts; Grow their businesses; Access to sole source contracts. Join us and learn:Certification requirements; Program benefits; Application procedures.  Register

Small Business
Resource Fair

Wednesday, Sept 28
10am - 3pm
Reggie Lewis Center
1350 Tremont Street 
Boston, MA 
If you are interested in starting, growing or expanding your business, learning about resources available through the City of Boston & Commonwealth of MA, networking with small business owners or interacting with small business owners, register to attend today! Featuring keynote remarks by Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods.  Register  

New England Regional INNOVATION SUMMIT

Thursday, October 6
8am - 4pm
Learn how to win Small Business Innovation Research funding to help bring your technology from the lab to market. 
Register (FREE)