2019 National Small Business Week: Two National Winners from Northeast Ohio!

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Release Date: April 8, 2019


Release Number: 04-08-19



Contact: Patricia Welsh 216-522-4172

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2019 Small Business Week:

Two National Winners from Northeast Ohio


CLEVELAND — Akron-based EarthQuaker Devices LLC and the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University have been honored with national awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

EarthQuaker Devices has been named the SBA’s Exporter of the Year, and the Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Youngstown State University has earned the SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award. The SBDC won the award in a competition with nearly 1,000 SBDCs across the country. 

Jamie Stillman, founder and president of EarthQuaker Devices, will be honored on May 6 in Washington, D.C., during events surrounding National Small Business Week. Patricia Veisz, director of the SBDC at Youngstown State University, will receive her award on May 5 in Washington, D.C.

EarthQuaker Devices is a leading global exporter of hand-crafted guitar special effects pedals. Mr. Stillman’s company has successfully made use of the SBDC Export Assistance Network, which provides free, confidential counseling to exporters and has offices throughout Ohio. The network, an SBA resource partner, assists small- and medium-sized businesses with international business planning, market research, export documentation, local product requirements and logistics.

The company was assisted through a State of Ohio International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE) grant to develop an international marketing strategy, funded through SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).  The company also made use of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Gold Key Service, which provides U.S. companies with matchmaking appointments with interested partners in a foreign market.   Through this service, administered through the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), where officials of the Department of Commerce and SBA are co-located, EarthQuaker LLC met with potential partners in Australia.  This resulted in a signed contract with an Australian firm and an opening order of $41,000.

Mr. Stillman started the company in his basement and now has about 50 employees working in a 15,000-square-foot facility in Akron. EarthQuaker exports guitar pedals to 47 countries.

The Ohio SBDC at Youngstown State University is a partnership supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Ohio Development Services Agency and Youngstown State University.  Through its programs and services, the center provides entrepreneurial development assistance, training programs and high-end business consulting to existing businesses and start-up ventures. In 2018, the SBDC at Youngstown State University devoted 7,035 counseling hours to assisting 279 clients, helping small businesses generate more than $96.87 million in new sales, creating 491 jobs and retaining 1,496 jobs. The center connected companies to $17.51 million in capital infusion.

“SBA is honored to recognize these outstanding individuals and organizations.” said Gil Goldberg, SBA Cleveland District Director. “These two outstanding examples of perseverance, determination, innovation and entrepreneurship have brought good jobs to northern Ohio. Small businesses and small business champions are the backbone of our nation’s economy. National Small Business Week serves as the nation’s salute to all the small businesses and their entrepreneurial spirit.”

“We are proud of the work our partners at the Youngstown Small Business Development Center are doing and the impact they are having in the Mahoning Valley” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Small businesses are the backbone of Ohio’s economy, and we are pleased with the exceptional work happening to help them grow.”

Since 1963, the president has proclaimed one week to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the economy.  This year SBA is hosting events in different cities around the country each day of Small Business Week. In Cleveland, there will be events honoring this year’s winners from the area. In addition, SBA will provide information at U.S. Postal Service (USPS) sites during USPS’s area-wide celebration of Small Business Week.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.