SBA Celebrates National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (#HBCU) Week, 2019

September 2019

u s small business administration

National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week

US flag
Ashley Bell


Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA Southeastern Region is celebrating the declaration of the 2019 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week by collaborating with the 68 HBCU's located across the Southeast. For over 180 years, America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have made extraordinary contributions to our country, helping bring the American Dream to millions of African-American students and many others. The success of HBCUs was a priority for the Trump Administration from day one. Barely a month after taking office, President Trump signed an Executive Order to move the Federal HBCU initiative back into the White House.

In recent weeks, President Trump declared September 8 through September 14, 2019, as National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, and he further proclaimed September 9, 2019, as the Inaugural National HBCU Colors Day. The National HBCU Week was themed, "Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement. Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance".  The theme speaks volumes. Read more here

To help celebrate this accomplishment, the SBA has committed to hosting HBCU Entrepreneurship Summits at several HBCU's across the United States. These summits provide an opportunity for the university students to learn more about SBA and entrepreneurship as well as connect with HUBZone firms that are hiring students part time or full time. Students should gain knowledge at the summits of options that exist for them to gain grassroots employment and continue on a positive trajectory following HBCU life. Please check with your local district office for a calendar of events for upcoming HBCU Entrepreneurship Summits coming your way.

Shaw Students

RA Ashley Bell joins students at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC during their HBCU Entrepreneurship Summit this month

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Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


#HBCU's: The Alabama District Office salutes Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Bishop State Community College, Gadsden State Community College, J.F. Drake State Technical College, Lawson State Community College, Miles College, Oakwood University, Selma University, Shelton State Community College, Stillman College, Talladega College, Trenholm State Technical College, Tuskegee University.

Bruce Purdy, Deputy Director, HUBZone, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development at SBA HQ in DC, was in Huntsville recently to address attendees at the Second Annual HUBZone Innovation & Technology Showcase sponsored by The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship in Huntsville. While in Huntsville, Purdy toured two HUBZone Incubator facilities as well as other HUBZone firms.

Bruce Purdy

Rural Strong-ALABAMA. The Alabama District Office is participating in the 4th of 8 planned Rural Strong events. This Thursday the focus is on Demopolis, in Marengo County. Rural Strong is a partnership between SBA and USDA Rural Development to inform audiences in rural areas about available financial—and other—programs and services from SBA and USDA.

Gil Colon

North Florida District Office

Gil Colon, Deputy District Director


The SBA Florida team recently participated in the Florida Government Guaranteed Lenders (FLAGGL) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The team including James Van Horn, Supervisory Lender Relations Specialist and Gilbert Colón, Deputy District Director provided updates about lending in the district.

The SBA North Florida District Office, along with Ashley D. Bell, SBA Regional Administrator, participated in the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), School of Business and Industry’s Entrepreneurial Forum and Summit on Tuesday, September 24. Approximately 400 students participated in the event. The SBA provided information on programs and services, and discussed HUBZones as part of the presentation. RA Bell was also invited to guest lecture for a business and accounting class.

AB with FAMU SBDC SBA leadership

Pictured: Thaddeus Hammond, North Florida District Office EDS; Ashley Bell, Regional Administrator; Gilbert Colón, NFDO Deputy District Director; and Keith Bowers, Regional Director SBDC at FAMU.

FAMU Summit

Photo of RA Bell with participants and other speakers.

RA Bell and FAMU Students

RA Bell guest lecturing to a group of students at FAMU.

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director

The South Florida District of the SBA recently announced the appointment of Debra Salas as their Lead Lender Relations Specialist.

The South Florida District encompasses 24 counties from the Tampa metro area, extending east to the Treasure Coast and as far south as the Florida Keys and employs staff at its headquarters in Miami along with two Alternate Work Sites in Tampa and Ft. Pierce, Florida.

In her new role, Salas will collaborate with public and private sector agencies, lending organizations, and individuals to ensure that identified communities have knowledge of and access to SBA lending and other federal, state, and community programs and resources that support entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Debra on our staff to lead our high-performing lending efforts,” said Victoria Guerrero, director for SBA South Florida. “For a number of years, our District ranked in the Top 5 for SBA lending, and currently, we are in our fifth-consecutive year of backing more than $1B in SBA loan guarantees.”

Before joining the federal government, Salas worked as the Vice President Director of Small Business Lending for Neighborhood Lending Partners where she was responsible for executing their small business loan program goals through direct business development, marketing and community outreach activities throughout the state.

Prior to joining NLP, she worked in the non-profit field and academia, as well as owned and operated a small, alternative lending mortgage brokerage business in Miami that served customers who did not typically qualify for traditional financing.

Salas’ vast knowledge and experience with SBA programs and services were recognized in 2017 when she was awarded the SBA Financial Advocate of the Year for the State of Florida and for the South Florida District. More recently she was invited to speak to members of a bi-partisan Congressional Small Business Committee in D.C. about the SBA’s Community Advantage Program.

In her role as a community steward, Salas actively participated on the Miami-Dade Bridge Loan Committee after Hurricane Irma; Beacon Council’s Small Business Committee; Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses; the SBA’s Emerging Leader Program and Boots to Business Program; Florida Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (FLAGGL) Small Business Lender’s Forum, and the Small Business Development Center’s Women in Business Program.

Salas earned a Bachelor’s in Communications from Hunter College and a Master’s in English from New York University.


Contact Info:
Debra Salas, Lead Lender Relations Specialist
South Florida District Office
51 SW 1st Ave., Suite 201
Miami, Florida 33130
Office: 305- 536-5835


Photo: Salas (pictured left) with Victoria Guerrero, SBA South Florida District Director

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director


Fort Valley State University and the SBA Georgia District Office kicked-off the HBCU/HUBZone Entrepreneurship & Career Summit on Wednesday, September 25th in Fort Valley. The goal of the event was to provide entrepreneurship education to minority students and businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones). The event started with the signing of a Strategic Alliance Memorandum between the SBA and Fort Valley State as part of the SBA's ongoing outreach and work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

AB Speaking

Signing of an MOU between SBA & Fort Valley State University

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director

The Kentucky District Office participated in four events with resource partners around the state in September.

The Louisville SBDC launched a new 10-week program entitled “Minority and Women Contractor Training.” The goal of the series is to educate minority and women business owners how better to compete for government contracts. Topics include cost and resource management; cash flow analysis; understanding taxes; bidding and estimated; scheduling; planning and safety. Subject matter experts, including SBA and PTAC staff, will address these topics.

On September 11, the Kentucky District Office offered a workshop entitled “Business Continuity Planning: Preparing for Disasters.” The event was organized and hosted by the Louisville Chapter of the Better Business Bureau and included a full day of complementary topics, including workplace conflict, active shooter training, and drug/alcohol workplace testing.

The Kentucky District Office was involved in a PTAC event entitled “SBIR Form: Focus on DoD Research Contracts.” The event, held on September 17, was designed to help small business owners understand the SBIR grant application process as well as contracting opportunities. The program included experienced DoD purchasing agents and ample networking opportunities for attendees.

SBA participated in a Small Business Lenders Fair with the U.S. DOT Small Business Transportation Resource Center, South Atlantic Region on September 24. Speakers included both traditional and nontraditional small business lenders. A question and answer session, as well as a speed networking opportunity with area lenders, including SBA 7(a), 504 and microloan providers, was a core part of the event.

The Kentucky District Office also held a two-day Boots to Business program at both Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell, which included numerous guest speakers, including SBA resource partners.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director

Rural Strong Mississippi: On Thursday, September 19th, the Mississippi District Office hosted its Rural Strong-South event in Poplarville, MS, working in collaboration with USDA Rural Development and Farm Service Agency. This was the third special outreach event in rural communities in Mississippi. Over 50 attendees included small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as the SBDC, SCORE, VBOC, and SBA lenders.

MS Rural Strong collage

Lender Training: A training for new and inactive lenders was conducted by the Mississippi District Office on September 12, 2019 in Biloxi, MS. This was the final of a series of regional trainings conducted throughout the state to introduce the SBA 7(a) loan program, its regulations and core requirements to new SBA lenders or current SBA lenders that need a refresher. Topics covered included SBA loan programs and processes, eligibility, terms, uses of proceeds and fees. In addition to the SBA programs covered, a presentation was provided by Melanie Dill, Community and Economic Development Product Manager of the Federal Home Loan Bank, Dallas on their Small Business Boost program.

MS lender Training

Mike Arriola new HS

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola, Deputy District Director

RALEIGH, North Carolina (September 12, 2019) – SBA Southeast Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell visited the Raleigh-area HBCUs Shaw University and St. Augustine’s University to signify SBA’s continued commitment to HBCUs across the state.
North Carolina is home to 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), five of which are campuses of the University of North Carolina. The SBA is committed to being of service to HBCUs, including delivering its programs and services to the student bodies and surrounding communities of HBCUs.

Shaw President

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Sept. 12, 2019) Ashely Bell, SBA regional administrator, discusses entrepreneurship with Dr. Paulette Dillard, president, Shaw University prior to speaking to event attendees in Estey Hall auditorium.

SAM Signing with Shaw

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Sept. 12, 2019) From left, Ashely Bell, SBA regional administrator, Rev. Dr. Gaddis Faulcon, president, Saint Augustine’s University, and Dr. Sheria Rowe, assistant professor of business administration and chair of the Computer Information System program, St. Augustine’s University sign a strategic alliance memorandum between the SBA and St. Augustine’s University in the president’s conference room.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Gregg White, District Director

The South Carolina District Office held our first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Entrepreneurship Summit with Benedict College. Over 75 attendees participated in the event and learned about the HUBZone program, federal contracting, and the SBDC and SCORE resources available to help businesses start, grow or expand. Region IV Administrator Ashley Bell provided opening remarks at the event, and leadership from two other HBCUs were also in attendance! The event was a great success and we look forward to hosting other Entrepreneurship Summits with our HBCU partners in the future. Visit our website at to stay up to date on the latest events near you!

3 HBCU Presidents and Ashley bell

Pictured: RA Bell with Leadership from 3 HBCUs (Clinton, Benedict, and Voorhees College)

Benedict College

Pictured: RA Bell addressing the crowd.

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director



8a tile

Drive 8(a) Tennessee
Following our highly successful event on July 31, on September 10, Shelby County asked the SBA Tennessee District Office and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) to come back for Drive 8(a) Memphis Part 2. Drive 8(a) Memphis Part 2 was a half-day event that targeted minority entrepreneurs that are already doing business with the government-be it Shelby County, Airport Authority, or the Memphis Area Transit Authority. Over 75 attendees learned how to receive 8(a) certification and how to utilize the certification to increase federal contracting opportunities. Additionally, SBA Headquarters staff provided small businesses with training on the SBA Mentor Protégé and Surety Bond Programs.

Drive 8(a) Tennessee continues with Drive 8(a) Nashville on September 30, at American Baptist College. At this event, small business will learn about the 8(a) Business Development Program, succession planning, how to get bankable, and local resources available to assist with starting, growing, and expanding their small business. Also, attendees can network with other federal agencies and local small business resources that provide counseling, mentoring, and training. For more information and to register, click here.

bus tour

Rural Strong Tennessee Kicks Off Bus Tour Across Tennessee
On September 23, 2019, the SBA Tennessee District Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Office, and multiple statewide partners launched Rural Strong Tennessee with a bus tour starting in Athens, Tennessee, then Winchester on September 24, and Martin on September 25, culminating in Jackson on September 26. Small businesses will receive an opportunity to board the Venture Mobile Lab. The mission of the mobile lab is to inspire and equip entrepreneurs and business owners across rural Tennessee with the tools they need to succeed. At this event, entrepreneurs will also hear from multiple state, federal, and local partners that provide services to assist small businesses with starting, growing and expanding their business. During these Rural Strong Tennessee events, we will be recognizing SBA lenders who have pledged to increase lending to rural small businesses by 5%. Contact The Tennessee District Office to find out more information about these events and to register.