Entrepreneurs! This One is for You! #NationalSmallBusinessWeek

April 2019

u s small business administration
Ashley Bell



Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration




Congratulations Region IV 2019 Small Business Week Winners!

Regional awards will be presented to outstanding small business owners this year during National Small Business Week across the Southeast Region. National Small Business Week will be celebrated nationally from May 5-11, 2019.

Ashley D. Bell, Regional Administrator of the U. S. Small Business Administration’s Region IV, is proud to announce the 2019 winners of SBA’s Regional Small Business Week Awards.  “We are honored to highlight regional small business champions who are making significant changes by driving our economy and creating jobs for the entrepreneurial landscape across the Southeast,” says Ashley D. Bell, Regional Administrator. Our number one goal is to power the American dream of entrepreneurship, and these seven regional winners are proof that true small business success is achievable.”

The following winners are being recognized as regional winners during National Small Business Week:

2019 Rural Small Business Person of the Year

Courtesy Management

Hemalata Patel

Orangeburg, South Carolina 

2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year:

Sweet Roots Hair Bar

Labriah Holt

Atlanta, Georgia

2019 Second Chance Hiring Advocate of the Year

Nancy’s Pizza-Midtown

Mike Glover

Atlanta, Georgia

2019 Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award

weVENTURE at Florida Institute of Technology

Valerian Williams, WBC Program Director

Melbourne, Florida

2019 Region IV Exporter of the Year

Rotorcorp, LLC

Sean Casey

Atlanta, Georgia 

2019 Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Center Award

Beaufort Area Small Business Development Center

Martin Goodman, Area Manager

Beaufort, South Carolina 

2019 8(a) Graduate of the Year

Precision 2000

Guiomar Obregon

Atlanta, Georgia

Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week.  National Small Business Week is set as the first week in May, and this year the dates are May 5-11.  Local events will also be held across the Southeast as well to celebrate National Small Business Week and to honor the small business champions located in each of the respective states located in Region IV.  The regional awards will be presented during the local events.  Please contact your local SBA district office for more information on the local events www.sba.gov or visit here.

Learn More About National Small Business Week Here!

Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


Barb Carson, SBA Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, was in north Alabama recently.  She toured HUBZones including a tour of a HubZone Incubator facility as well as visited with HubZone Firm owners.  She also participated in other contracting events sponsored by The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship. Ms. Carson participated in a meeting with  NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Marshall Small Business Alliance (MSBA) and held meetings with city officials. We welcome Ms. Carson back to Alabama at any time!

Barb Carson

Barb Carson, (L) speaks with Carol Ann House, LBOS Alabama District, and Lee Rosenberg, Director of Small Business Programs, US Missile Defense

Wilfredo Gonzalez 2

North Florida District Office

Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, District Director


The North Florida District Office (NFDO) recently hosted a Rural Strong Expo in Marianna, Florida in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Opportunity Florida. The event was attended by over 170+ people, and included representatives from local chambers of commerce, small business owners, elected representatives, members of the media, and economic development agencies. Thaddeus Hammond, Business Opportunity Specialist, served as the lead for the event on behalf of the NFDO. He planned the events with the participating agencies, and coordinated efforts with members of the NFDO staff to ensure a successful event. The event featured speakers, panels, and networking opportunities.

NFDO team

North Florida District Office Staff L to R: Rosalind Bryant, LRS; Natalie Hall, EDS; Wilfredo Gonzalez, DD; James Van Horn, Supervisory LRS; Nayana Sen, PAS; and Thaddeus Hammond, EDS.

Rural Strong NF 2

SBA Director Gonzalez addressing the participants at the Rural Strong Event.


The 2019 North Florida Small Business Week Award Winners will be recognized at the Annual Small Business Week & Lender Awards Celebration (hosted by the Small Business Development Center at University of North Florida) on May 10, 2019.  Tickets and more information about the awards are available at the SBDC at UNF website. Fiscal Year 2018 Top Lenders will also be recognized at this event.

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director

National Small Business Week is a special time of year for the SBA and our nation’s entrepreneurs! Last month, Administrator McMahon announced the Small Business Persons of the Year and winners from various other categories who will be recognized during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. as part of the kickoff to 2019 NSBW. To my delight, it was a pleasure to find out Cheeseburger Baby, a South Florida business, was selected as a National 2019 Phoenix Award Winner for Disaster Recovery.

Stephanie Vitori, president of Cheeseburger Baby, originally joined the company as a delivery driver in 2001. After working alongside five other original employees, she was able to learn the business from the bottom up and officially took ownership in February 2004. Since that time, the company has grown to 20 employee and has more than $800,000 in revenues.

Over the years, the business continued to experience steady growth along with its fair share of challenges which came in the form of multiple hurricanes, a recession, and larger franchise burger companies moving into the same block.  After restructuring CBB’s business models to ensure the company ongoing success, it was not until 2017 when Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida that CBB encountered it biggest obstacle in the 18 years history. 

While taking the necessary steps and using savings to prepare and protect the business prior to Irma, Stephanie and her staff still faced many equipment failures that resulted in major post-hurricane disruptions. After being without power for almost two weeks, Stephanie was able to eventually use the food truck’s generator to power the restaurant and take small steps towards reopening the doors. This move was not only beneficial for the company, but also for locals and officials who she served who were also involved in hurricane clean-up efforts. 

After contacting our office, Stephanie was referred to the team the Florida SBDC at FIU in December 2017 to assist in her business recovery efforts and help navigate the SBA Disaster Loan process. “With the help of both the SBA and SBDC at FIU, I [was able] able to get my store re-opened, get back to pre-storm employment levels and continue the growth by getting my second food truck on the road,” said Stephanie.  “We also work closely with SBDC at FIU on business continuity planning to ensure that our business builds back better and that we can improve our resilience to future disasters.” 

Special thanks to our entire resource partner team at the Small Business Development Center at Florida International University for all they did to assist this small business during its period of recovery, following Hurricane Irma. I look forward to recognizing each and every South Florida NSBW winner!

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director

The SBA Georgia District Office  and Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers will jointly host a half-day event. The program’s  purpose is to foster new applicants for the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, provide instruction to current program participants on how to maximize the impact of their 8(a) program experience and prepare for transitioning out of the program at the end of their program terms. 

Topics Include:

  • Federal Contracting Market and the 8(a) Program
  • 8(a) Program Best Practices
  • 8 (a) Program Eligibility and Application Process
  • Effective Marketing to Federal Agencies
  • Capacity Building Tools /Resources for Current 8(a) Participants

There is no fee to attend.

Date:  May 13, 2019.  9:00 am to 12:30 pm

Location:  Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center in west midtown Atlanta.

For more information and registration, please to the SBA Georgia District Office Small Business Events Calendar at www.sba.gov/ga.

Ralph Ross

Kentucky District Office

Ralph Ross, District Director


Kentucky Announces 2019 Small Business Awards

Paul Isenberg, Owner of Smart Start Child Care, LLC in Bowling Green, Kentucky has been named the 2019 SBA Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year.

With a teacher and lender as parents, plus an undergraduate degree in education and an MBA, Paul decided to start an elite child care learning center in his hometown of Bowling Green. The first location was opened in late 2011. The SBA was involved almost immediately, as Paul applied for SBA loans to construct the building.

Paul faced many challenges: male owner/operator of a child care center, construction issues, cost overruns and more. Shortly after opening the first facility, Paul’s wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had to care for his young daughter, attend to his wife’s aggressive treatments and surgeries, and operate the new business.

Fortunately, Paul’s wife made a full recovery, and they were blessed with twins two years later. Also, the business began to grow rapidly. 

Smart Start Child Care has continued to expand throughout the region. They now have 128 employees and educate over 479 children. Since 2016, revenue has tripled, and net profit has grown four-fold.

The following Kentucky entrepreneurs and advocates will also honor during National Small Business Week:

  • Financial Services Advocate – SBA Bank Lender: Barry Frazier, Peoples Exchange Bank
  • Financial Services Advocate – SBA Microlender: Regina Becknell, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED)
  • Rural Small Business: James (Jay) and Michelle Tapscott, J-Mack BBQ, LLC
  • Veteran Owned Small Business: William (Will) Rivera, Running Soles, LLC

The Kentucky District Office and Kentucky SBDC will celebrate Small Business Week on May 8th at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Governor Bevin and other state dignitaries are expected to attend, along with over 120 guests and media.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director


The SBA Mississippi District Office will honor the Small Business Persons of the Year, Small Business Champions, along with our Top Lenders and Top CDCs at an awards ceremony taking place on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Jackson, MS, during National Small Business Week. 

On Thursday, March 27th, the SBA Mississippi District Office hosted its Drive 8(a) Summit in Jackson, MS.  The summit, part of a regional initiative to increase knowledge, information, applications submissions and ultimately certifications in SBA’s 8(a) BD Program,  provided powerful discussions about how to get into the 8(a) program, access to prime contractors, federal and state buying agencies and insight into current and future contracting opportunities.  In addition small businesses had the opportunity to meet with potential buyers, lenders, and SBA resources partners, and heard first hand from some current and graduated 8(a) firms in the “Testimonials” portion of the summit. The summit was attended by over 150 small businesses.  Feedback received on this special outreach event has been phenomenal, and dozens of companies who believe they are 8(a)-eligible provided their contact information for follow-up with them on their application submissions of which BOS Joyce Conner and EDS Jeremy Sanford will support.  

SBA speakers at this event included: Janita Stewart, SBA MS District Director; Rhonda H. Fisher, SBA MS Supervisory Lender Relations Specialist; Carol Thompson, Area Director, Area III Government Contracting in Atlanta, GA; Derrick O. Brown, DBA, Principal Senior Business Analyst All Small Mentor-Protégé Program in Washington, D.C.; Robert E. Willis, Lead Business Opportunity Specialist Division of Program Certification and Eligibility in King of Prussia, PA; Hilary F. Cronin, Director of Technical Solutions Office of Government Contracting and Business Development in Washington, D.C.

MS Drive 8a

Mike Arriola

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola,Acting District Director

North Carolina bids farewell to 

District Director Lynn Douthett

NCDO staff, colleagues and friends said goodbye to Lynn Douthett who leaves us after 21 years of service to the SBA.  Lynn’s last day with the SBA was Friday, March 29.

Prior to joining SBA, Lynn worked for 15 years in the banking industry as a regional manager with several banks, completing her career with BB&T. As a small business owner she established and marketed her own company in Charlotte. The business provided specialty-painting services for commercial and residential clients.

Lynn joined SBA in 1997. She managed the SBA's National Call Center in Charlotte and moved to South Florida as the Assistant District Director for Marketing and Outreach. Shortly after returning to North Carolina in 2003, she was named Deputy District Director.  She was appointed District Director in 2010.

Lynn and team

Above: Lynn (center) with her certificate of retirement from Administrator McMahon, joined by staff during the district office’s quarterly strategic planning meeting in Charlotte.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Gregg White, District Director


The South Carolina District Office is gearing up for our Salute to Small Business Procurement Matchmaker and Awards Luncheon on May 1st at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The mission of the event is to connect the state's small businesses to new opportunities and resources and to honor South Carolina's top small businesses and small business advocates. Attend all or part of the programming – tickets are available for the procurement matchmaker session, the luncheon, or the full day.

In the morning, take advantage of 10-minute one-on-one sessions with major corporations and government agencies like BMW, Shaw AFB and the SC Department of Transportation. Our morning session will also feature a small business exhibitor showcase and a networking space so you can easily connect with entrepreneurs, potential customers, and suppliers. A list of current companies that will send procurement representatives to the Matchmaker session can be found by clicking here.

In the afternoon, join us as we celebrate South Carolina's winners of the SBA’s annual South Carolina Small Business & Advocacy Awards and the top SBA lenders of the previous fiscal year. 

Salute Graphic

Register Here Today!

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director


Tennessee District Office to Celebrate 2019 Small Business Week with Two Events:



SBA Tennessee District Office to Honor Our Lending Partners

The SBA Tennessee District Office will honor its top lenders from Tennessee for federal fiscal year 2018 on May 1, 2019, during a ceremony in Manchester, Tennessee.  The luncheon event is being hosted by the South Central Business Development Company as part of their annual lender’s conference. Ten deserving SBA lenders will receive awards.   

Second Annual Business Development Academy to Drive 8(a) Participation

As a part of our efforts to Drive 8(a) participation and increase the procurement opportunities for Tennessee firms, the SBA Tennessee District Office will host their second Business Development Academy. This event will held in Nashville on May 8, 2019, from 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. CST, at the Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee’s 2019 Small Business Week will be celebrated during the Academy.

The Business Development Academy provides a great opportunity for existing and prospective businesses for one-on-one counseling related to management, marketing, operations, and other business needs. Participants will network with procurement officials and industry officials as well as meet one on one with SBA lenders. Additional sessions include contracting requirements, creating the right team to assist with contracting, negotiating subcontracts, certification, and business development strategies. For more information and to register, click here.

Business Academy