Drive 8(a) Hits the Southeast!

July 2019

u s small business administration
Ashley Bell



Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration


Drive 8(a) is Coming Your Way!

Government Contracting

SBA Creates Long-term Opportunity for Entrepreneurs through Government Contracting

Drive 8(a) Initiative Launches across the Southeast Empowering Small Business

The SBA makes the American dream of business ownership a reality by empowering entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell has made it a priority to not only help small businesses succeed, but to help them succeed for many generations to come.  With this priority in mind, Regional Administrator Bell launched Drive 8(a) across the Southeast to assist entrepreneurs in diversifying their long-term success through selling to the federal government.

Drive 8(a) has become part of the culture of each SBA district office located in Region 4. Each district has developed an active 8(a) Steering Committee comprised of public and private leaders to help lead the initiative in each respective state. The committee is tasked with two priorities: one is to recruit small businesses into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program (a 9-year program to support their development and growth, and assist small businesses in securing 8(a) set-aside federal contracts). The second priority is to assist 8(a) firms who are nearing their graduation date to continue to succeed as they exit the program with the expectation of being able to compete in the open marketplace. As part of the success of the initiative, seasoned 8(a) firms are encouraged to join with younger 8(a) firms and take on a mentor role to these firms to assist them in seeking continued success.

“I couldn’t be more excited to launch Drive 8(a). We want to be sure that more firms are entering in to the 8(a) program than are graduating, and this initiative is the ticket. The 8(a) Business Development Program has proven to be a vehicle for success for small business and it is our responsibility at the SBA to be sure that the success continues. We are actively educating entrepreneurs on the advantages of relocating to HUBZones and Opportunity Zones in order to continue success with federal contracting and to take advantage of the great financial benefits that are available in these areas. This is just one piece of Drive 8(a). We look forward to working with the local, state and federal partners across the Southeast to assure that Drive 8(a) is a continued success for our small businesses,” says Ashley D. Bell, Regional Administrator.

Upcoming Drive 8(a) events may be found on SBA District office calendar of events, or also by following #Drive8a on Twitter @SBASoutheast.

A complete list of Drive 8(a) Steering Committee Members from across the Southeast may be found here. The committees consist of local government leadership, current 8(a) firms, graduated 8(a) firms, resource partners, and contracting organizations.

Opportunity Zones in the Southeast

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Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


SBA Alabama District Office Lender Relations Specialist David Ramp presented to Tuscaloosa Builds on SBA’s Surety Bonds on July 18 at Stillman College Wynn Humanities Center. The program, titled “Designed with Small Businesses in Mind,” was made to 11 small business owners who included minority and woman-owned businesses. Tuscaloosa Builds is a project of the City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, designed to provide minority and woman-owned business owners with information to help their businesses thrive and grow in the Tuscaloosa area. For upcoming events, please visit 

Wilfredo Gonzalez 2

North Florida District Office

Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, District Director


The North Florida District Office Orlando Alternate Worksite recently presented a comprehensive workshop on SBA Programs and Services in Spanish to a group of entrepreneurs hosted by the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida.  Ed Ramos, Senior Area Manager for Orlando presented the information. The event was held in the office of Florida Consumer, a Puerto Rico-based 501c(3) consumer and credit assistance organization.

Ed Ramos is well known in the Orlando area. He was selected by the La Prensa Newspaper as “Professional Business Leader of the Year” in March. He is also nominated for the prestigious Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida Don Quijote award in the category of “professional of the year”. The Don Quijote awards are unveiled in their December gala celebration. Good Luck, Ed!!

Ed Ramos

The North Florida District Office recently participated in an Access to Capital roundtable hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida. Rosalind Bryant, Lender relations Specialist, gave an overview of SBA’s Programs and Services.  Black Business Investment Fund representatives provided information regarding business advisory services, loan application pitfalls, and other best practices in applying for assistance. This roundtable included new/existing business owners, local non-profit organizations, and other lending partners. 

Ros Bryant

Pictured (from left to right) Romessea Lewis, Process Manager-BBIF; and Rosalind Bryant, NFDO Lender Relations Specialist.

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director


South Florida has done it again! For the fifth consecutive year, we have exceeded $1B in loan guarantees.  As of July 10, our office backed 2,125 loans for more than $1.05B for FY-19.



FY-19 / $1.054B (as of 8/3/18)  

7(a)     1,887 loans /$847.9M

504     238 loans/$216.8M 


Top 5 Lenders (7(a) (by $):

Live Oak Bank                      29 loans/ $45,599,000

First Home Bank                  113 loans/ $44,267,400

SunTrust Bank                      66 loans/ $39,442,100

TD Bank                                415 loans/ $37,936,900

Wells Fargo Bank                 179 loans/ $30,992,800


Top Lenders (504) (by $):

Florida Business Development Corporation                     91 loans/ $77,659,000

Florida First Capital Finance Corporation                        122 loans/ $120,448,000

Independent Development Services Corporation             1 loan/ $258,000

Sunshine State Economic Development Corporation       24 loans/ $18,474,000


In support of the White House Initiative of focusing on Historical Black Colleges and Universities, we are in the planning phase to host a HBCU Entrepreneurship Summit at Florida Memorial University.  Also this Summer, we will be holding two additional Drive 8(a) event in Tampa and Cocoa, Florida; a Surety Bond Event; and Rural Lending Events along with a  Rural Business Walks. For more information, please visit here.

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director



Rural Strong coming to West Point, Georgia!



Date: Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Time:  2:00-4:30 pm

Location:  West Point Depot, 500 3rd Avenue, West Point, GA 31833

Rural Strong West Point:

  • Business Success Panel-hear from business owners about their journey as entrepreneurs and lessons learned along the way.
  • Highlights of SBA and USDA programs and resources for aspiring and current business owners in access to capital, business counseling and education, and government contracting
  • Opportunity to meet with agencies and organizations that can help you launch or grow your business

For more details and registration, go to the SBA Georgia District website’s Small Business Events calendar at

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director


Small Business Educational Opportunities in Kentucky

The SBA Kentucky District Office and its Resource Partners are involved in numerous small business educational events in July and August, including:

  • HUBZone Roadshows with the PTAC in southeastern and central Kentucky;
  • Business Builder workshops, hosted by the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky;
  • Buying a Business webinar with SCORE;
  • A two-day Business Plan Bootcamp with SCORE and the SBDC;
  • “Strong Women-Strong Coffee” roundtable discussion at the WBC, with experts who will discuss how to better understand business credit and the art of negotiating;
  • Monthly Boots to Business programs onsite at Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell;
  • A “Reverse Trade Show” at Kentucky State University, an HBCU in the state capitol;
  • A training session with the PTAC focused on the All Small Business Mentor Protégé program;
  • A Woman Owned Small Business Event with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and
  • The annual Minority Business Expo.

For more information on these and other events, go to and look under Small Business Events.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director


Rural Strong-North in Mississippi

Represented by District Director Janita Stewart, Supervisory Lender Relations Specialist Rhonda Fisher, Lender relations Specialist Rosetta Harris, and Lender Relations Specialist Debbie Dean, the Mississippi District Office rolled out its Rural Strong – North outreach event in Batesville, Panola County on Thursday, June 27th. Working in collaboration with USDA Rural Development and Farm Service Agency, this event, hosted by Panola County Partnership, was the second of three special outreach events scheduled this FY tied into this national initiative. In spite of inclement weather, the event attracted just under 100 attendees including small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as the SBDC, SCORE, the VBOC, SBA lenders, the area PTAC, and the North Delta Planning and Development District.

Rural Strong MS
Rural Strong MS 2


For Beauty and Hair Industry

Are you ready to start your business in the beauty industry or expand your business?

MONDAY, JULY 29, 2019

9:30 AM – 12:00 PM (SIGN-IN  9:00 AM)

The Innovation Center

1636 Popps Ferry Road

Biloxi, MS 39532

The SBA invites you to a no-cost SBA Small Business Workshop.  This event will provide you with entrepreneurial resources along with the opportunity to meet with business experts who can assist you in starting or growing your businesses.


Mike Arriola new HS

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola, Acting District Director


North Carolina is “Rural Strong”

The North Carolina District Office team headed to Spindale, NC, for its latest “Rural Strong” joint SBA-USDA outreach event.  Held at Isothermal Community College in rural Rutherford County, the event counted over 60 participants from throughout the area.

Speakers from the IRS and Isothermal Planning and Development Commission delivered information to entrepreneurs and community stakeholders regarding Opportunity Zones and by what means the zones can benefit small businesses, investors, and the broader community.  The event also contained a “Conversation about Funding” where attendees interacted with financial program experts from the SBA, USDA, and alternative lenders.

NC Rural Strong

Above, from left: Roger Kumpf, field representative for Rep. Patrick McHenry; Jordan Barnes, regional representative for Sen. Thom Tillis; Evette Davis, stakeholder liaison with the IRS (one of the opportunity zone speakers); Robin Ramsey, field representative for Sen. Richard Burr; Warren Smith, area director with the USDA; and Mike Arriola, acting district director for the SBA-North Carolina District Office.

Drive 8(a) Recruitment Summit

The SBA North Carolina District will host a Drive 8(a) recruitment event on Thursday, August 15 at the Morrison Regional Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This event will cover the basics of the 8(a) program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply.  Attendees will also be provided with information on how to obtain small business loans through SBA’s loan guaranty program and how to benefit from the no fee one-on-one business counseling assistance. Registration and information may be found here

Rural Strong: Waynesville

On Tuesday, September 17 at Haywood Community College in Waynesville, the SBA North Carolina District will team up with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to hold the next iteration of the small businesses outreach event Rural Strong.  “Rural Strong” was created to showcase programs and services designed to help small businesses grow in rural communities.  The upcoming event will have a service provider expo, a funding panel conversation, and an opportunity zone session.  Outside of the classroom, event participants will have the opportunity to network with financial experts and agency officials. Please stay tuned for more details on Twitter @SBA_NC or by visiting the North Carolina District website 

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Gregg White, District Director


The South Carolina District Office, SCORE and the SBDC are collaborating with local Chambers of Commerce in the Grand Strand region to promote our upcoming Myrtle Beach Lender Matchmaker event in September.  The collaborative events are being held on July 30-31 with the Chambers and titled “Get Help with Your Prep!”  The program will walk businesses through available resources as well as what lenders are looking for.  SCORE and the SBDC will be presenting on the components of a business plan and how to develop financial statements and projections.  Chamber members and Myrtle Beach area businesses are being encouraged to take advantage of the workshops to prepare for next year’s tourism season.

The Myrtle Beach Lender Matchmaker event will be held September 10th at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and will feature over a dozen SBA lenders including 7(a) lenders, 504 lenders and Microlenders.  The event is coming back by popular demand after a successful event last year.  Businesses will have the opportunity to meet one on one with multiple lenders in one afternoon to discuss their loan requests in private sessions and gain valuable feedback.  SCORE and SBDC will also be available to assist those businesses that need help in becoming lender ready and to develop their loan packages.

For more information and registration, go to the “Small Business Events” calendar at  

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director


Drive 8(a) Tennessee Continues

Are you looking to sell your product or service to federal, state, or local governments? If so, Drive 8(a) is for you. Drive 8(a) is a national effort dedicated to the recruitment and success of 8(a) firms across the country (including firms located in HubZones, Opportunity Zones, Promise Zones, and minority, veteran, and woman owned small businesses).  Tennessee launched Drive 8(a) in May at the Business Development Academy and, for the rest of the summer, it continues throughout the State – in East, Middle, and West Tennessee.

Drive 8a Memphis

On July 31, Drive 8 (a) Memphis will be at Southwest Tennessee Community College (Macon Cove Campus). Attendees will hear Ashley Bell, SBA Region IV Administrator. For more information and to register, visit here.

On August 7, come learn about the Myths and Truths on becoming 8(a) certified at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit here.

On September 30, Drive 8(a) Tennessee will continue its efforts with Drive 8(a) Nashville at American Baptist College, a Historically Black College and university (HBCU). Ashley Bell, SBA Region IV Administrator will address attendees. For more information and to register for this event, go here.

nashville Drive 8a

Music City

Small Business lenders: SBA headquarters Office of Capital Access staff will be presenting at the 2nd Annual Music City Small Business Lenders Conference.  Learn about the latest updates to SBA loan programs. Meet SBA decision makers and network with other lenders and service providers. SBA Regional Administrator Ashely D. Bell will be presenting during the conference on Rural Strong, the region-wide effort to increase lending in rural areas. For more information, please visit here.