SBA Tennessee 2019 Small Business Week Special Edition Newsletter


Tennessee District Office -May 2019

u s small business administration

SBA District Director's Corner

by LaTanya Channel, Tennessee Director

In this edition, we highlight 2019 Small Business Week Award Winners. Please join us in congratulating this dynamic group of small businesses and a small business media advocate.

Also, please find information on upcoming opportunities for entrepreneurs across Tennessee. 


SBA Tennessee District Office Honors 2019 Tennessee Small Business Winners 


Larry Schmittou, Owner of L&S Family Entertainment, is the 2019 Tennessee Small Business Person of the Year. 

After being a teacher, basketball coach, and president/general manager of the Nashville Sounds Professional Baseball Club, Larry formed S&S Family Entertainment, LLC (S&S). In August 2000, S&S, now L&S Family Entertainment, LLC (L&S) of Hendersonville, was formed to purchase a family fun center with the primary activity of bowling. L&S combines the best of bowling, games, food, drink, and entertainment. With the assistance of six SBA 504 loans, the business has grown from one location in 2000 to 14 centers in four states with more than 400 employees.


Gabrielle Blades, Owner of Blades Creatives, is the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year 

In 2015, Gabrielle started Blades Creative, a Chattanooga based branding and print design company that focuses on small businesses, non-profits, and larger organizations/businesses. After receiving business counseling through the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Chattanooga State Community College,  Blades Creatives has tripled its gross income and added an employee since business inception. Also, the business has been able to add additional services while maintaining the integrity of her original vision.



Sonya Briggs, Nikki Orazine, and Shehla Rooney of MotusX are the 2019 Tennessee Small Business Inventors of the Year.

In 2016, after seeing a need in the health care industry related to recovery from knee replacement surgery, Sonya, Nikki, and Shehla, physical therapists in Cookeville, developed a device to assist patients with bending and straightening the knee after surgery. This invention is known as GoKnee. With the benefit of counseling assistance through the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at Tennessee Technological University, Sonya, Nikki, and Shehla obtained a patent on the GoKnee device and protocol. Additionally, the business established a website to manage sales, marketing, and shipping of GoKnee. Also, Motus X has doubled its revenue since inception and has expanded sales to 13 states and a province in Canada.



Milton J. Tookes, Owner of Accord Federal Services, LLC, is the 2019 Tennessee Veteran Owned Business of the Year.

In 2010, Accord Federal Services, LLC, (AFS) in Knoxville, opened as a veteran and minority owned company. AFS specializes in nationwide support to government agencies. The company provides facility management, project management, HVAC management, grounds maintenance, cemetery maintenance, and related services. Through receiving counseling through the SBDC at Roane State Community College, AFS has been awarded contracts with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U. S. Department of the Army. U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Dept. Of Defense (DOD), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin (NOAA), U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Additionally, AFS has increased sales from $200,000 in 2011, to $ 4.8 million in 2018.



Kathy “Dee” Sue Miller Johnston, Owner of Tasteful Gatherings is the 2019 Tennessee Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year 

Tasteful Gatherings, a full-service boutique catering and event design business in Cleveland, opened in 2013. Dee and her team have been counseled by the TSBDC at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) since the inception of the business. As a  result of this counseling, the business submitted the winning bid for the Café, catering, and vending machines at CSCC, received a loan to renovate the Café, and developed a side business renting event equipment.   



Derrick Mayberry, Owner of Seeing is Believing Auto Detailing is the 2019 Tennessee Minority Owned Business of the Year.  

In 2000, Derrick started Seeing is Believing Auto Detailing. After 18 years, Derrick wanted to expand the business and sought counseling through the TSBDC at Murfreesboro State University. Due the ongoing counseling, the business  has expanded its workforce from one to three full time employees and 22 independent contractors. To serve their increasing client base, the business has connected with the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center for additional talent. Also, the business is now working with Nashville Airport Authority to secure contracts to clean its fleet.



Thomas Gordon Kincer, II, Owner of Kincer Engineering and Design, LLC, is the 2019 Tennessee Rural Owned Small Business of the Year.

In 2010, Thomas opened this business in Rockford. The business  focuses on restoration and customization of Ford Broncos that were manufactured from 1966-1977. After seeking counseling through the TSBDC at Pellissippi State Community College for financial analysis and business/management planning, the business has expanded to two locations totaling 20,000 square feet; increased its workforce from 5 to 13 employees, and doubled its gross sales. Additionally, the business mentors University of Tennessee engineering students.    



Josh Cross is the 2019 Tennessee Small Business Media Advocate of the Year. 

Josh, a reporter with the Gallatin News in Sumner County, has covered a range of local issues and happenings related to the area's small business community since 2013. He works closely the Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Gallatin Economic Development Agency, and the TSBDC at Volunteer State Community College. His reporting often focuses on the human interest stories of small business owners.

Upcoming Events for Tennessee Entrepreneurs

Hensel Phelps Nashville - Terminal Lobby & IAF Project Enabling Work Pre-Bid Meeting: Hensel Phelps is hosting this event and encourages contractors to consider working with the Metro Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) and them, and to propose on the Enabling Work trade opportunities! Event will be held on May 22, 2019. For more information and to register, please go here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 2019 Industry Day: USACE Lower Mississippi Valley Districts - Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans are hosting this free event on May 29, 2019. Large and small business contractors can attend this no-charge event to learn about current, future prime and subcontracting opportunities throughout the lower Mississippi Valley Division. For more information and to register, go here.

The SBA Office of Advocacy Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable: In an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them the most, SBA is hosting this Roundtable in Memphis on June 5, 2019. This is an opportunity for small business owners and stakeholders to meet in-person with Advocacy senior staff. This event is free to the public.For more information and to register, click here.




The U.S. government is the largest purchaser of good and services in the world. To educate and assist entrepreneurs in becoming a client of the U.S. government, the SBA Tennessee District Office has launched Drive 8(a). Under Drive 8(a), the Tennessee District is dedicated to the success of 8(a) firms. The SBA Tennessee District team is committed to recruiting new firms in to the 8(a) Business Development Program (including firms located in HubZones, Opportunity Zones, Promise Zones, and minority, veteran, and  women owned small businesses). We are also are dedicated to contributing to the continued success of 8(a) firms once they near graduation. Stay tuned to these future communications for these upcoming Tennessee Drive 8(a) events: July 31, 2019 and September 30, 2019. For more information on upcoming Drive 8(a) events, please contact the SBA Tennessee District Office, or follow @SBA_Tennessee on Twitter.




The SBA has established a Rural Strong initiative and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that commits to a deeper collaboration and coordination of the agencies’ resources. On its own and with the USDA, the SBA is working to increase access to capital, improve opportunities for public and private investments in rural America, and help rural businesses export products around the world. The effort aims to achieve the President’s vision of a rural America with world-class resources and the tools and support necessary to build robust, sustainable communities. For information on Rural Strong events in Tennessee this summer, please stay tuned to these communications, contact the SBA Tennessee District Office, or follow @SBA_Tennessee on Twitter.



The SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities. Click here for resources.


Opportunity for SBA Lenders

lenders conference


Come learn about the latest changes to SBA loan programs. Meet SBA decision makers. Network with other lenders and service providers. For more information, please visit here.