Get Your #SmallBiz Ready for Summer- SBA Southeast Region

May 2019

u s small business administration
Ashley Bell



Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration


Summer is around the corner and what better time to focus on your small business! We have top priority initiatives happening across the Southeast that could greatly benefit you. Please be sure to stay tuned in to Twitter @SBASoutheast to learn the latest events happening near you. Be sure to search for hashtags #Drive8a and #RuralStrong. All districts are hosting no cost events to drive enrollment in to the SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program as well as help graduating 8(a) firms seek continued success through the Drive 8(a) Initiative. And my other priority is to increase lending in rural America by 5%, which means the SBA is bringing the tools and resources in to the rural areas along with USDA to be sure everyone has access to capital to help build generational wealth. Please stay tuned for these exciting initiatives happening through an SBA District Office near you.

As part of our #Drive8a Initiative, you can learn from our SBA North Florida District Office as well as our SBA South Florida District Office during the Florida 8(a) Alliance's Annual Conference at the end of this month in Orlando. I am honored to bring the keynote address and will talk much more in detail about #Drive8a and how the 8(a) contracting program is an incredible tool for the success of any business. For more information visit here

Drive 8a

Learn More About Exporting Opportunities for Your Small Business Here.

World Trade Month

Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


This month in Huntsville, AL, the SBA Alabama District Office along with the University of Alabama in Huntsville Small Business Development Center & Procurement Technical Assistance Center hosted its second Annual Drive 8(a) Success Summit. This event was geared towards promoting success while in the 8(a) Business Development Program for current and newly admitted participants. We look forward to holding similar events in the near future. Stay tuned by visiting 

AL Drive 8a Panel 2


Panel of graduated 8(a) firms sharing best practices and lessons learned while in the 8(a) Program. #Drive8a. 


Pictured Left to Right: Mike Williams, President of Trident Technologies, Larry Lewis & Kim Caudle Lewis, Project XYZ

group photo drive 8a AL

Special thanks to all who helped make this event a success!

(Pictured Left to Right: Mike Williams – Trident Technologies, Chasity Ash – GSA Lead Small Business Technical Analyst, Tamika McNeal – TruFund, Thomas Todt – AL District Director, Jawanda Jones – AL BOS/Event Facilitator, Mary Jane Fleming – UAH PTAC, Kim & Larry Lewis – Project XYZ)

Wilfredo Gonzalez 2

North Florida District Office

Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, District Director


The Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted a Small Business Summit in celebration of National Small Business Week on Thursday, May 9, 2019. This was the 3rd installation of the annual event where small business owners are provided with hands on opportunities to learn how to start and grow their businesses. The event was coordinated by the SBA North Florida and the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC). Over 184 people attended the summit and learned about starting and growing their small businesses. The event was hosted to celebrate Small Business Week. Resource partners such as the Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and the Veterans Business Outreach Center also participated in the event.

N Fl Small Biz Summit

Photo of some of the participants at the Small Business Summit.

Small Biz Summit Group Photo

Pictured L – R (Back): Thaddeus Hammond, SBA; Kathy Bolesworth, JWBC; Ellen Sullivan, JWBC; Gilbert Colón, SBA; Derrick Willoughby, SBA; Ashlea Justice, JWBC ; and Rosalind Bryant, SBA. Front row: Natalie Hall, SBA.

Cert presentation NFL

The North Florida District Office recently presented William “Roy” Richardson, Outreach and Planning Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, with an award and certificate to commemorate 5-years of joint workshops with the Business Development division. Roy accompanied Tisa Clark, Business Opportunity Specialist, to over 60 workshops throughout the North Florida district territory including Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville. The workshops were designed to help business owners learn about the SBA’s programs and services, as well as the Fair-Labor Standards Act, Davis-Bacon Act, and the Service-Contract Act.

Pictured Above left to right Daniel White, District Director DOL Wage and Hour Division in Jacksonville; William “Roy” Richardson, William “Roy” Richardson, Outreach and Planning Specialist DOL; Kenneth Hamilton, Supervisory Business Development Division SBA North Florida; and Leticia “Tisa” Clark, Business Opportunity Specialist, SBA North Florida.

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director

Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell visited Tampa on May 7 to take part in one of the national 2019 National Small Business Week celebrations. As part of the visit, Bell met Suzanne and Roger Perry owners of Datz Foods, a SBA loan-assisted success story that has been featured on Good Morning America, Travel Channel, Food Network, and Cooking Channel. Later in the day, RA Bell and DD Guerrero also toured Diversified Environmental Services, a family owned and operated SBA success story with over 50 years of combined experience in the maritime business.

RA Bell at Dough

RA Bell, SFDO DD Victoria Guerrero, Suzanne Perry, and Roger Perry.

armchair discussion

As part of the national Small Business Week celebration, Regional Administrator Bell participated in a Small Business Q & A session with South Florida District Director Victoria Guerrero and presented awards to several local small business owners during an awards luncheon that was sponsored by the Florida SBDC Network

SBW Winners

Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell (right) congratulates Widescope Consulting and Contracting Services on their 2019 NSBW South Florida Veteran-owned Small Business of the Year win.

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director

The SBA Georgia District Office  is hosting a surety bond education event. The program’s goal is to provide the attendee with everything they need to know about contract bonding.  Join the U.S. Small Business Administration and the National Association of Surety Bond Producers for a half day seminar exploring a variety of topics, including:

  • Contract Bonding & Insurance · Banking & Finance · Federal Assistance Programs · Local Procurement Opportunities

There is no fee to attend.

Date:  June 27, 2019.  8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Location:  Atlanta Technical College Cleveland L. Dennard Conference Center

1560 Metropolitan Parkway SW, Atlanta, GA 30310

For more information and registration, please go to the SBA Georgia District Office Small Business Events Calendar at

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director

Kentucky District Office Celebrates Small Business Week

 The Kentucky District Office and the Kentucky SBDC jointly celebrated Small Business Week with an awards program at the state capital. Entitled “Kentucky Celebrates Small Business,” the program featured both SBA and SBDC small business awards. Presenting the awards were Kentucky Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton, SBA Acting District Director Robert Coffey and Kentucky SBDC Director Kristina Joyce.

The SBA awards were for Small Business Person of the Year and other small business and advocacy categories. The KSBDC presented awards to outstanding startup and growing businesses. Over 100 were present, including members of the  Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; federal, state and local government dignitaries; representatives from the SBA and SBDC; and award-winning small business owners, family and friends.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director

The Mississippi District Office celebrated Small Business Week by recognizing the 2019 Small Business Week Winners, Top Lenders, and Top CDCs for 2018 loan approvals during an evening reception held on Thursday, May 9th at Old Capitol Inn in Jackson, MS. Approximately 100 participants gathered to enjoy in this annual celebration.

Photo 58 MS

(L-R) Jennifer and Jeffrey Sutton, SBA Mississippi 2019 Small Business Persons of the Year and Janita Stewart, SBA MS District Director

MS Small Business Week Winners

SBA Mississippi 2019 Small Business Persons and Champion Winners

Top MS Lenders

SBA Mississippi Top Lenders and Top CDCs

Mike Arriola

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola, Acting District Director


North Carolina Honors its 2019 Small Business Award Winners

SBA Small Business Person of the Year:  Steven Ceccarelli,

Farm Fresh Produce, Inc


Above, L-R: Steven Ceccarelli with SBA Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton.

A naturalized U.S. citizen from Canada, Steven started Farm Fresh Produce Inc. in 2010 in rural Faison NC as a produce marketing and selling company with six employees.  By 2016, with the help of an SBA 504 expansion loan, the company purchased a 44-acre site, renovated and converted a 20,000-square-foot building into a packing facility, and constructed a curing barn.  The company had $23 million in sales last year, exports to Europe, and has more than 80 employees in rural eastern North Carolina.

Small Business Exporter of the Year:  Jonathan Szucs, Advanced Superabrasives, Inc.


Above, L-R: Small Business and Technology Development Center counselor Georges Neuenschwander, Advanced Superarasvies president Jonathan Szucs and SBA North Carolina Acting District Director Mike Arriola.

Jonathan’s company, Advanced Superabrasives Inc., manufactures a variety of machine parts (such as grinding wheels) made of industrial diamond and other extremely hard materials.   Established almost fifteen year ago, the company is now exporting to customers in foreign countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Germany, Italy, China, Thailand, and Japan.  The company also exports to a planet:  its products were installed for use on the Mars Curiosity Rover.

National Boots-to-Business Instructor of the Year: Stuart Walters, Women’s Business Center of Fayetteville


Above, L-R: Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development Larry Stubblefield, Stuart Walters, and SBA Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton.

Boots-to-Business is the SBA’s entrepreneurship program serving transitioning service members across the country.  North Carolina’s program encompasses four military installations including Ft. Bragg, the largest army base in the country.  On average, Stuart teaches between 15 and 18 Boots-to-Business classes per year on Ft. Bragg.  Each of his classes is comprised of service members and veterans endeavoring to grow their skills, knowledge and resources to advance business plans and concepts.  Walters was selected for the award as a result of his outstanding dedication and excellence in teaching the Boots-to-Business course.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Gregg White, District Director

The South Carolina District Office is excited to announce the start of a new organization called SC Business Collaborative, which is comprised of federal, state, city, and county governments, successful business owners, and community organizations that are all dedicated to assisting the South Carolina small business community. SC Business Collaborative will be hosting a series of events that will have all of the organizations and their resources in one place!

The first event that SC Business Collaborative will host is called “Scaling Up: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.” This one-day workshop for women-owned startups will talk about what it takes to start, grow and expand your business in South Carolina. It will also include how to develop an action plan for your business and one-on-one meetings with local resources that can help with your marketing and sales strategy, business certifications, business financing and more. Lastly, you will get a chance to hear from women who have used these programs to start and grow a successful business of their own. Join us on June 13th at 9 a.m. at the Benedict College Business Development Center. For additional information and registration, visit

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director


Drive 8(a)” launches in Tennessee with the 2nd Annual Business Development Academy


As a part of Region IV efforts to Drive 8(a) participation, increase procurement opportunities, and expand business development, the SBA Tennessee District Office hosted its 2nd Annual Business Development Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. In partnership with the Tennessee PTAC and the Nashville Business Incubation Center (NBIC), this event drew nearly 150 small businesses who powerfully networked with and were trained, counseled, and energized by procurement officials and 8(a) Business Development graduates.  Both current 8(a) firms, potential 8(a) firms, and 8(a) graduates walked away with tangible next steps after also having one-on-one counseling and group training sessions with SBA lenders, procurement consultants, and officials from the US Army, GSA, US Air Force, Tennessee Valley Authority, Metro Nashville Business Assistance Office, PTAC, SBA, NBIC, Synovus Bank, and Brightbridge (SBA  Tennessee Community Advantage lender).

TN Drive 8a

Stay tuned for the next Tennessee Drive 8(a) event to be held in August in Memphis, Tennessee and in September in Nashville. For more information on upcoming Drive 8(a) events, please stay tuned here, contact the SBA Tennessee District Office, or follow @SBA_Tennessee on Twitter.