Honoring Black Entrepreneurs During Black History Month

February 2020

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


Black History Month, National African American History Month


Black History Month is celebrated every February; a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping U.S. history. I am honored to highlight the significant role that African Americans have made in shaping our economy through entrepreneurship and community investment.

The Small Business Administration has helped to power the American dream for many African American entrepreneurs across the nation and in the Southeastern Region. The SBA backed $210 million in loans to African American owned small businesses across the 8 Southeastern states last fiscal year. $2.3 billion in federal contracts were awarded to the SBA’s 8(a) certified firms; small businesses that have proven to be economically disadvantaged. Over 100,000 start-up and existing entrepreneurs last year were counseled and trained through the extensive resource partners we work with such as SCORE, the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. The SBA has driven entrepreneurs successfully to the website LenderMatch to help connect a lender to the specific loan needs of a small business owner. We are reaching more entrepreneurs today more than ever before; and this is just the beginning.

Last year, I was humbled by receiving the Drum Major for Justice Award from the President of the Perry County Civic League, Albert Turner, at the historic Marion Baptist Academy located in Marion, Alabama. During the ceremony I explained, “I accept this honor on behalf of our lost loved ones whose deaths have paved our path. I know without any uncertainty that I would not be here today without the sacrifices of those like brother Jimmie Lee Jackson who was killed organizing for voter rights here in Marion. And for the life and legacy of Marion’s favorite daughter Coretta Scott King.” I mention this award and this occurrence, because it helps to show just how important history is and it ties right into this year’s theme for Black History Month: African Americans and the Vote, recognizing the struggle for voting rights among both black men and women throughout American history.

We have come so far over time, and yet we have a lot more work to do. My job won’t be finished until each and every African American owned small business has knowledge of what opportunities exist for them towards their success from the programs and services of the SBA to the multiple growth options made available through Opportunity Zones, through supply chain demand, through public and private contracting opportunities, access to capital, and the list goes on. I look forward to continuing to deliver services and opportunities to black-owned businesses across the nation through my role as Regional Administrator for the SBA and as a Policy Advisor on Entrepreneurship & Innovation for the White House office of American Innovation.

Local News From Your

SBA District Office

Thomas Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director


On Friday, February 7, 2020, AL Deputy District Director, LD Ralph had the privilege to attend “Made in DeKalb” The event is an annual showcase for DeKalb County business and industry to interact with students from the local school systems. 

Made in DeKalb

Pictured above (L to R) LD Ralph, Deputy District Director of the AL District Office, Pam Clay Director of Business Retention and Expansion and Jimmy Durham, Executive Director for the DeKalb County Economic Authority.

Gil Colon

North Florida District Office

Gil Colon, Deputy District Director


The SBA North Florida District Office hosted a Financing Your Small Business Exporters workshop (for Lenders) on February 4th. The Office of International Trade, Regional Manager and North Florida District Office International Trade Officer provided detailed information to local lending institutions on the real advantages of exporting; followed by a discussion about SBA’s Export Finance Programs.


Pictured (from left to right): Rosalind Bryant, DITO-NFDO, Sandro Murtas, Regional Manager, OIT and Julia Montgomery, International Trade Specialist-FSBDC.

The SBA North Florida staff recently hosted a Boots to Business (B2B) training session at NS Mayport.

B2B is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the DOD’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The course provides an overview of entrepreneurship and applicable business ownership fundamentals. Active Duty Service members (including National Guard and Reserve), Veterans of all eras, and spouses are eligible to participate. During B2B, participants are introduced to the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to launch a business, including steps for developing business concepts, how to develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources available to help. This two-day in-person program is facilitated by subject matter experts from the SBA and their extensive network of skilled business advisors. Participants that complete an in-person B2B Reboot course can elect to further their study through one of many B2B online courses, offered at no cost to Service members, Veterans and military spouses. Visit the North Florida District website (www.sba.gov/northflorida) to see when the next session of B2B is available.

B2B Jax

Pictured: Derrick Willoughby, SBA Business Opportunity Specialist presenting to the B2B participants at NS Mayport.

Victoria Guerrero

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director


Opportunity Zone Tour Hits South Florida
White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ashley D. Bell hosted an Opportunity and Entrepreneurship Summit in Fort Myers, FL at Hodges University as part of a 20-city national tour. The SBA and the White House Office of American Innovation are working together to deliver the summits to bring all of the resources available for entrepreneurs to tap into designated Opportunity Zones. 

Ashley D Bell OZ Summit

Ashley D. Bell brings opening remarks during the Opportunity & Entrepreneurship Summit in Fort Myers, FL

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director


On February 20, the Georgia District Office entered into a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the Georgia Greater Black Chamber of Commerce (GBCC). An affiliate of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, GGBCC aims to connect its members with business opportunities and resources across the state, nation, and around the globe. The Georgia District Office and GBCC look forward to collaborating on outreach, education, and assistance efforts to GBCC’s member businesses and chambers throughout Georgia.

Terri Denison & GBCC

Left to Right: Melinda C. Sylvester, President, Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce and Terri Denison, SBA Georgia District Director

Robert Coffey DDD

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, Acting District Director

Kentucky Plans Small Business Community Forum

The Kentucky District Office is participating in a first-of-its-kind regional Small Business Community Forum in Lexington on March 18th. Also involved in the all-day forum are the Kentucky PTAC; Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS); the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS); and Commerce Lexington, the Lexington area chamber of commerce.

The purpose of the Small Business Community Forum is to take a holistic approach to community challenges by:

  • Launching an “Economics in Education” program.
  • Emphasizing the business opportunities when better connecting economic development, education and community development organizations.
  • Highlighting the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program, workforce development and other community development initiatives.
  • Increasing the awareness and connectivity of SBA’s HUBZone and 8(a) programs, SBA loan and bonding programs with supplier diversity and workforce development programs.
  • Showcasing resources and technical services available for small businesses from organizations like the SBA, the KY PTAC, SBDC, etc.
  • Offering an exhibitor fair to small businesses to obtain more information about federal, state and local government, private industry procurement opportunities and community development initiatives.

Hosted by the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Leestown Campus, the forum is expected to attract over 100 small business owners. SBA and FCPS plan to continue the momentum by offering quarterly outreach and education programs for small businesses in the region and across the state. For more information, please contact the SBA Kentucky District Office www.sba.gov/ky.  

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director


SBA Surety Bond Education Event

The SBA Mississippi District will host a Surety Bond Education Event on Tuesday, March 3rd at the Clyde Muse Center on the campus of Hinds Community College in Pearl, MS. In addition to the SBA Underwriting Marketing Specialist in the Office of Surety Guarantees in Denver, CO, other participants will include SBA Mississippi District staff; representatives from the MS Development Authority’s Model Contractors Bonding Program and PTAC; Federal Buying Agencies with contract opportunities that require bonding; SBA-funded resource partners will be on hand for assistance; SBA 7(j) Contractor’s Federal Contracting Readiness Program; and a Panel highlighting an active SBA Surety Bond company along with a Mississippi small business recipient of SBA guaranteed bonding. More information forthcoming at www.sba.gov/ms as well as registration information.

Small Business Financing Workshop
A Free Workshop from the SBA Gulfport Branch Office
March 24, 2020
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Hancock Bank Plaza
2510 14th Street, Suite 103
Gulfport, MS 39501

A detailed overview and discussion of SBA Loan Guaranty Programs and commercial financing programs including what you as a small business should prepare for when seeking commercial lending. Topics discussed include: Credit Criteria, Preparing a Loan Application, Credit Factors, Determining your financing needs, Alternative Financing, What a Lender Looks For, and the next step in accessing capital as a small business. This workshop will better prepare you and your business when approaching commercial lenders.

To register, please visit here


“Rural Strong” - Central
Thursday, March 26, 2020
9:00 AM – 12:30 PM
8:30 AM
Holmes Community College
Attala Center
620 West Jefferson Street
Kosciusko, MS 39090

The U. S. Small Business Administration, U. S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and U. S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency invite you to this Rural Strong event.  Targeting small businesses and entrepreneurs to attend this event to learn about SBA and USDA programs and services available to start, grow and expand. Also, take advantage of on-site business counseling, meet with representatives of banks, lending institutions, and contracting officials. Do not miss out on this unique opportunity!!!


Thomas Stith

North Carolina District Office

Thomas A. Stith, III, District Director

Opportunity Now Summit Held in Charlotte

On Friday, February 7, 2020 the NCDO supported the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council which brought the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit to the campus of Central Piedmont Community College. NCDO staff members provided information on SBA’s programs and resources throughout the event, which counted about 1,200 attendees.

Opportunity Now Charlotte

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza second from right, poses with members of the NCDO staff during the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit. L to R, Public Affairs Specialist Gregory Grevelding, General Counsel Dina Boorda, Lead Lender Relations Specialist Karen Hoskins, District Director Thomas A. Stith III, Carranza, and Lender Relations Specialist Walter Lara-Figueroa.

Admin & Stith

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and NCDO District Director Thomas A. Stith III, pose for a photo during the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit.

Carranza Greeting

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza greets BOS Joe Anne Shaeffers as NCDO District Director Thomas A. Stith III looks on during the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit.

Richard White

 South Carolina District Office

Richard "Gregg" White, District Director


Rural Strong is coming to the Upstate! Join SBA and USDA for a FREE business expo focused on the development of rural small businesses and farms. Hosted by Piedmont Technical College, and featuring guest speaker Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Secretary of Agriculture.

• Hear from representatives of SBA and USDA about the resources that are available to small businesses and farmers
• Learn about the economic development of rural small businesses and farmers within the state
• Listen to a panel of business owners and farmers discuss best practices for rural businesses
• Network with over 20 different organizations in the state that provide free or low-cost assistance to rural entrepreneurs.

Register Here!


LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director

New Regulations issued on Opportunity Zones -- Workshop Coming to Nashville

On March 3, 2020, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Tennessee State University, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and the SBA Tennessee District Office will cohost this half day workshop. Join us as we discuss opportunity zone projects within the state, investment opportunities, and walk through the final regulations issued.

For More Information and to Register

Opportunity Zones

The SBA Tennessee District Office has more Rural Strong and Drive 8(a) Trainings for You!

Check out the following upcoming opportunities for networking and training:

  • Rural Strong Tennessee: SBA and USDA Financing workshop in Morristown on March 4; Find Your Funding workshop in Chattanooga on March 19; Rural Strong Road Show in Centerville on March 20; Business After Hours in Winchester on March 31; SBA and USDA Financing workshop in Polk County on June 25; and SBA and USDA Financing Workshop in Kingston on September 9.
  • Drive 8(a) Tennessee Trainings & Events: “Get In The Game” on Surety Bonds, Funding, and Certifications in Knoxville on April 28.

For more information on these events for Tennessee entrepreneurs, please stay tuned with these communications, contact the SBA Tennessee District Office, and follow us on Twitter @SBA_Tennessee.