Happy Holidays from the SBA Across the Southeast!

December 2019

u s small business administration
Ashley Bell


Ashley D. Bell

Region IV Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship & Innovation



Happy Holidays to all entrepreneurs, small business lenders, resource partners, and to every supporter of small business from across the Southeast!

Happy Holidays

Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


On Wednesday, December 4, The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship in Huntsville, AL held a press conference to announce its receipt of an SBA 7(j) grant. The award is a $350,000 one-year grant with a four-year option for a total of $1.75 million fully funded. This grant will allow the Catalyst to continue providing high quality assistance to eligible small disadvantaged businesses. Strategic partners on this grant will include Drake State Community & Technical College, Neighborhood Concepts, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, and Live Oak Bank. Alabama District Office Deputy Director L. D. Ralph attended the press conference and brought remarks on behalf of SBA. Here you see him pictured with Leigh Christian on the left, who will administer the grant on behalf of The Catalyst, and Patricia Sims, Ed.D., President of Drake State.

Drake State

(Pictured Left to Right: Leigh Christian, The Catalyst, AL Deputy District Director L. D. Ralph, Patricia Sims, Ed.D., President of Drake State)

Gil Colon

North Florida District Office

Gil Colon, Deputy District Director


The North Florida District Office (NFDO) recently hosted a number of entrepreneurs for its first quarterly informational workshop on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s programs and services and the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. In addition, the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center’s (JWBC) Interim Director, Jackie Geary, gave details to the audience about programs & services available to them. Created in 1953, the SBA is the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government. The WOSB Program is designed to help small businesses who are owned by women and economically disadvantaged (ED) women to compete in the federal marketplace. The WOSB Program promotes competitiveness for federal contracts set-aside for eligible WOSB and ED WOSB firms and provides agencies a tool to achieve the WOSB contracting goal of 5%.


Representatives from the SBA North district were present at the reverse trade show hosted by the Central Florida Chapter of the National Institute of Public Procurement held in Maitland, Florida on November 12th. The event groups over 500 government purchasers and attracts over 2,000 participants each year. Annually, member agencies convene for a chapter sponsored reverse trade show where local and regional vendors have a unique opportunity to meet and network with public purchasing representatives from all over Central Florida. The SBA North Florida team was represented by Ed Ramos, Senior Area Manager, and Derrick Willoughby, Business Opportunity Specialist.

Derek Willoughby

Derrick Willoughby, North Florida Business Opportunity Specialist, and Damaris Nazario, president of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Institute of Public Purchasers

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director


This month, the South Florida District hosted Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell for a White House Opportunity & Entrepreneurship Summit in the City of Miami Gardens.

After welcoming those in attendance, Bell shared the importance of Opportunity Zones and encouraged attendees to capitalize on this incentivized, long-term investment program. Established in 2017, Qualified Opportunity Zones were created as part of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These zones were designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by providing tax benefits on qualifying capital invested in such communities.

Through panel discussions and one-on-one sessions, entrepreneurs in attendance at the Miami Gardens Summit were able to hear best practices for revitalization, Opportunity Zone investments, and collaboration from both community leaders and SBA partners. “Opportunity Zones are a way to bring success home,” shared Bell. “If you don’t have an MBA, you have the SBA!”

Ashley D. Bell

Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell also serves as the newly appointed White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director

Georgia has a new SCORE chapter. Previously a branch of the Columbus chapter, the South Georgia chapter, located in Moultrie, was formally recognized on November 14. In addition to working with “traditional” businesses, the chapter has member expertise in agricultural business. SCORE, formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is an SBA resource partner organization that offers free mentoring and low-cost training to pre-business clients as well as new and existing business owners.
To connect with SCORE South Georgia, go to https://southgeorgia.score.org.

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director


Kentucky SBA Lenders Conference

The Kentucky SBA Lenders Association held its annual Reception and Conference November 15–16 in Louisville. There were almost 150 attendees, included SBA lenders, resource partners, members from the FDIC and USDA, many economic development agencies and SBA employees from the Atlanta regional and Kentucky district offices. Also, Daniel Upham, Chief, Microenterprise Development Division and Christopher Webb, Deputy Chief, Microenterprise Development Division, were in attendance.
Lender awards were presented for SBA top performing national and community banks, CDC/504 lenders and microlenders. The association also acknowledged individual loan officers for outstanding achievements and named the 2019 Kentucky SBA All-Star Lender Team.

Breakout sessions included 7(a) Servicing; SBA International Trade Loans; Franchise Lending; Overview of the 504 and Microloan programs; the FDIC Money Smart Initiative, and Constructions Risk Management. SBA success stories were also highlighted.

The top-three ranking national/regional lenders included, in order: U.S. Bank, N.A.; The Huntington National Bank; and BB&T. Top producing community banks included Community Trust Bank, Inc.; Republic Bank & Trust Co.; and Hancock Bank & Trust Company. Hancock and First Financial Banks also received Rural Strong Lender Awards for increasing loans in less populous areas of the state at least five percent.

The top three producers of 504 and microloans were also recognized, including in order: Capital Access Corporation – Kentucky; Premier Capital; and Community Ventures (504 lenders); and Community Ventures; Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) and Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) for microloans. 

KY Lenders Conference

Kentucky SBA Lenders Association Annual Reception and Conference November 15–16, Louisville.

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director


SBA Mississippi Now Accepting 2020
Small Business Person of the Year & Champion Award Nominations

For more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has celebrated the inspiring achievements of America’s small businesses and the countless contributions they make to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy.
This year’s categories are:
• Small Business Person of the Year
• Small Business Exporter
• Young Entrepreneur
• Generational Family-Owned Small Business
• Minority Small Business Champion
• Women in Business Champion
• Veteran Small Business Champion
• Rural Business Champion
• Home-Based Business Champion
• Financial Services Champion
• Entrepreneurial Success Award
• Small Business Journalist
• Second Chance Hiring Advocate
• Phoenix Awards (recognizing outstanding accomplishments during disaster recovery)

For more information on nomination and guidance please visit: https://www.sba.gov/content/deadline-approaching-national-small-business-week-awards-nominations-1

All nomination packages must be submitted to the SBA-Mississippi Gulfport Branch Office. Nomination packages must be hand delivered or mailed to SBA Mississippi-Gulfport Branch Office 2510 14th Street, Suite 103, Gulfport, MS 39501 no later than 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 7, 2020.


Grand Opening! City of Jackson MSBDC

Audience from MS Event

Grand Opening of Mississippi's Newest newest Small Business Development Center in Jackson

On December 5, 2019, the Mississippi District Office joined the Mississippi Small Business Development Centers and the City of Jackson to celebrate the grand opening of the state’s newest Small Business Development Center. Formed through partnership between MSBDC and the City of Jackson, this full-service center, one of eight in MS, is located across from City Hall in the heart of downtown Jackson. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba- City of Jackson, Janita Stewart- District Director, and Sharon Nichols- MSBDC State Director addressed attendees on the value of partnership and planning, and also in attendance were Derek Eady – SBDC Project Officer, Rhonda Fisher – SLRS and Ashlei Donerson – PCR.

MS Lenders

From L to R: , Janita Stewart- District Director, Sharon Nichols- MSBDC State Director, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba- City of Jackson

Thomas Stith

North Carolina District Office

Thomas A. Stith, III, District Director

North Carolina promotes Small Business Saturday

In the days leading up to Small Business Saturday 2019, North Carolina District Director Thomas A. Stith III conducted interviews with multiple media outlets, including a state-wide television segment with Spectrum News. Staff from the district also emphasized the benefits of shopping small during interviews with media from Asheville, Fayetteville, and Wilmington.

Director Stith on Small Business Saturday

NC District Director Thomas A. Stith III highlights the benefits of shopping small during a Small Business Saturday interview with Spectrum News.

Nineteen graduate NC’s Emerging Leaders program

On November 13, 2019, NC District Director Thomas A. Stith III provided the keynote speech to the Charlotte Emerging Leaders graduating class of 2019. Over the eight-month program, the 19 small business owners were given the opportunity to accelerate their knowledge in growth strategy plans, government contracting, and financing.

NC Emerging Leaders Graduates

NC District Director Thomas A. Stith III, far right, takes a group photo with the Charlotte Emerging Leaders graduates and program managers.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Richard "Gregg" White, District Director


The South Carolina District Office is searching for our next Small Business Person of the Year! Is it you, or someone you know? If so, send a nomination package to our district office by 3 p.m. on January 7th! This is a great opportunity to showcase our state’s successful small business owners and the incredible businesses they have created.

Our Small Business Person of the Year and other winners will be recognized at our annual Salute to Small Business Awards Luncheon held on May 6th at the Columbia Convention Center. In addition, winners will be highlighted on the SBA South Carolina Office website, newsletter, and twitter page. Two of our 2019 winners were also featured on the cover of the 2020 South Carolina Small Business Resource Guide!

SC Resource Guide

Pictured (left to right):

2019 Small Business Exporter of the Year - Nicole and Boyd Johnson, Boyd Cycling

2019 Minority Small Business Person of the Year – Karen Jenkins, KRJ Consulting

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director

What’s Happening in Tennessee in 2020

As we build on the successes of 2019, the SBA Tennessee District Office (TNDO) will continue hosting Drive 8(a) and Rural Strong Tennessee events across Tennessee in 2020 focusing on government contracting, participation in the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, and connecting Tennessee small business owners with resources available around the state, and in their local rural communities.

Selling to the Government

As events are scheduled, we hope to see you!

Please add the following events to your calendar: April 28 2020 in Knoxville: If you are near East Tennessee, please come to this Drive 8(a) event to learn about SBA Surety Bonds, Small Business Lending, and Government Contracting Certifications from SBA, the State of Tennessee, and the Knoxville Airport Authority. This event will be hosted by the Knox County and Knoxville City Mayors’ offices along with Knoxville Urban League, SBDC, SCORE and other local partners including the Knoxville Chamber. Registration is now open here: Knoxville - Get In The Game with Govt Contracting & Surety Bonds

And on March 6, 2019: Join the Women’s Business Center at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center for the 2nd Annual “BE BOLD” International Women’s Day event on 3/6/20. Registration will open soon! The Pathway Women's Business Center is in Nashville but serves the entire State of Tennessee.

For more information on upcoming Drive 8(a) and Rural Strong events, please stay tuned with these communications, contact the SBA Tennessee District Office, or follow us on Twitter @SBA_Tennessee.