Women-owned Smallbiz Success, Upcoming Virtual Events for Entrepreneurs & More!

SBA Southeastern Regional Update for Entrepreneurs


March 2021

u s small business administration
SBA celebrates Women's History Month

Janita Stewart

Women Entrepreneurs are Powering the American Dream

By: Janita R. Stewart U.S. Small Business Administration’s Southeast Acting Regional Administrator, serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

As we move into March, we continue to celebrate women entrepreneurs in honor of Women’s History Month. This year we are celebrating the small business successes as well as the incredible challenges that entrepreneurs have overcome in light of the global pandemic. This year is like no other year in history. The American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, which makes its projections based on data from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners, claims that there are nearly 13 million women-owned firms in the United States.  The number of women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019 and firms owned by women of color grew at double that rate (43%). These women entrepreneurs wouldn’t have the success that they’ve achieved without the millions of incredible women who helped pave the way for equity in small business ownership.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has resources available for women to help them succeed and place them on an equal playing field. The newest resource the SBA has introduced is the online Ascent Platform. Ascent offers in-depth resources for small business owners who are beyond the start-up phase and are ready to grow their businesses. Women entrepreneurs may select which “journey” to travel online to meet their needs and result in growth.  Ascent provides the tools to grow and expand their resources including recovery opportunities from the pandemic or any natural disaster.

The SBA’ Office of Women’s Business Ownership has developed a large network of 136 Women’s Business Centers (WBC) located across the United States. These centers provide educational programs, training and mentoring. They also help female entrepreneurs become certified as a woman-owned small business and/or an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business in order to work with the federal government and diversify their client base. The centers may also assist businesses with marketing, exporting and social media. The WBC’s located in the Southeast Region may be found here.

The SBA has many resources for women entrepreneurs. Because of these resources, we witness small business success as well as learn new challenges that women entrepreneurs face. This helps the SBA to continuously create and launch new resources for women-owned small businesses, a growing positive economic force throughout our Southeast region and the nation. To learn of further resources or for any small business assistance, please work with your local SBA District Office.

Women’s History Month is a great time to recognize the great achievements of women entrepreneurs. Become a part of the movement and let the SBA help you power your own American dream of entrepreneurial success.  For the latest news, follow us on Twitter @SBASoutheast.


SBA Celebrates Pioneering Women-Owned Businesses and Helps Navigate Federal Contracting

This month is Women's History Month – a month dedicated to commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women's contributions in American history.  Diana Lewis Jackson, President and CEO of Action Facilities Management (AFM) and the U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year is an example of this excellence.  AFM found success as a woman-owned certified small business specializing in government and commercial facilities management supporting clients in 11 states and Washington, D.C.    

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Hear from YOUR Local

SBA District Office

Tom Todt

Alabama District Office

Thomas (Tom) Todt, District Director

This past week was the 5th Annual National Small Business Development Center Day. The Alabama District Office salutes the stalwarts in the Alabama Small Business Development Center Network. The ASBDC Network continues to be our pre-eminent counseling resource throughout the District’s 67 counties, historically attaining or exceeding assigned goals while remaining responsive to changing needs and conditions.

ASBDC’s five-year track record is phenomenal:

  • More than 6,280 jobs created, retained or saved
  • More than 1,000 new start-up businesses
  • Over half a Billion in access investment capital
  • More than 73,000 1:1 advising hours

The results speak for themselves when SBDC clients experience 10.1% sales growth (vs 4.4% state average), as well as 27.3% employment growth (vs 1.4% state average).

The demographics of ASBDC’s client base reflect the level of penetration achieved statewide. Of the 3,316 client companies that have received confidential, 1:1 assistance:

  • 40% were Women-owned
  • 16% were Veteran-owned
  • 36% were Minority-owned
  • 51% were Rural

Ready to grow your business? Sign up for SBA's Emerging Leaders Initiative.

The Alabama District office is currently recruiting participants for 2022 Emerging Leaders programs in Birmingham and Mobile. For information about Emerging Leaders and to register, go to SBA initiatives.

Malcolm Richards

North Florida District Office

Jon Malcolm Richards, District Director

The North Florida District Office recently hosted a Women's History Month Celebration. The event highlighted the challenges and successes of women business owners. District Director, J. Malcolm Richards provided remarks to the group. The event was hosted by Thaddeus Hammond, Women’s Business Representative for the district. The guests discussed challenges women face in starting and growing their businesses, leadership, and success factors. The audience was inspired by their messages and stories of humble beginnings on a journey to that place called SUCCESS!! The event was supported by women’s business groups including National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO) and the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center. Several women small business owners also participated in the women’s history month event.

Participants on the call from NFDO:  J. Malcolm Richards, NFDO District Director; Natalie Hall, Economic Development Specialist; Thaddeus Hammond, Economic Development Specialist; and Rosalind Bryant, Lender Relations Specialist.

External Participants: Jacksonville Women's Business Center Director, Jackie Geary; National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO) Orlando President-Elect, Lena Graham-Morris;  Cerita Battles: Managing Director, Head of Community & Affordable Lending at JPMorgan Chase; Dr. Sandra Thompson: Faculty, Program Leader, College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS), Florida A&M University; Alfreda Boney: President, Perfectly Suited Career; Princess Ousley, President: Elite Business Strategies and the International Association of Small and Diverse Businesses (IASDB); Chauncia Willis: Co-Founder and CEO of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM); and Imani Osborne, Management Member: Indelible Business Solutions.

North FL WHM Event

A successful event in North Florida honoring Women's History Month!

The SBA South Florida District Director Victoria Guerrero is hosting a virtual roundtable discussion for Champions of women-owned small businesses to share their insights and explore what the SBA South Florida District can do as an organization and what can be done collectively, to help women-owned businesses continue onward toward recovery.  2021 remains a critical time in the lives of small business owners as they manage through the pandemic.  SBA has been at the forefront of the financial relief the federal government has offered to help businesses meet their payroll and other expenses through the SBA’s long-standing Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program as well as through the more recent legislative creations, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, and the soon-to-be-released Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. 

Despite our successes nationally and statewide with these programs, we recognize that some small businesses have not been able to take advantage of these opportunities and many are still hurting.  The roundtable discussion with those organizations and champions in closest proximity to women in business will help us fulfill our mission “to help entrepreneurs start, grow, and succeed in business and recover after disasters.”

Victoria Guerrera

South Florida District Office

Victoria Guerrero, District Director


Entrepreneurship Empowerment for Women

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

In celebration of Women's History Month, we are excited to share with you some inspirational topics that will help empower you through your journey of entrepreneurship. Our roundtable presenters have in-depth experience helping entrepreneurs launch and grow successful businesses.

In this webinar, you will laugh and learn how a sense of humor is vital to success in business. You will also discover your superpower, how to stand up to discouragement, and achieve work-life balance. Then, you'll be good and ready to tackle the numbers in your financials that may have been holding you back from creating and having the successful business you desire.

Free to attend. Click here to register. The workshop will be conducted by the Tampa Women's Business Centre and features speakers from the SBA South Florida District Office and SBA Resource Partners.  Take a break and be emPOWERed to keep on growing your business!

Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri L. Denison, District Director

Savannah Woman-Owned Small Business Successfully Pivots During the Pandemic

During Women’s History Month, the SBA Georgia District Office would like to highlight a woman-owned small business in Savannah that was able to pivot during the pandemic. Diana Morrison is the owner of Ad Specialty Services, which specializes in branded promotional products and corporate wearables for events and trade shows. When the pandemic started, the company was able to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan that allowed Diana to keep her staff on payroll and time to figure out a new game plan. She saw the need for wipes, sanitizer and disposable masks for her community and clients so they could continue working safely. Ad Specialty Services successfully pivoted to branded personal protection equipment, which then accounted for 95 percent of their sales.

Diana GA

Diana Morrison, owner of Ad Specialty Services, which specializes in branded promotional products and corporate wearables for events and trade shows.

Robert Coffey

Kentucky District Office

Robert Coffey, District Director


Kentucky Welcomes New Deputy District Director Joshua Stutzman

 Joshua Stutzman is the new Deputy District Director for the Kentucky District Office. Previously, he was the SBA Cincinnati Branch Manager for two years, where he managed the strategic efforts and daily operations of SBA’s activities in the 16 counties in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area. That office is a branch of SBA’s Columbus District Office, which serves 60 counties in central and southern Ohio. 

Earlier in his SBA career, Joshua served three years as the Supervisory Business Opportunity Specialist for the 8(a) Business Development Division of the SBA South Florida District Office. Joshua ensured that small business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged were able to successfully leverage SBA certification programs and services that helped them succeed in the federal marketplace. 

Joshua Stutzman

Joshua has over 11 years of federal government service. Before joining the SBA, he worked as a Quality Assurance Program Coordinator and Contract Specialist/Procurement Analyst with the Department of Defense at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. He attended the Defense Acquisition University and achieved his Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) Level II Contracting certification and Level I certification in Program Management. 

Before his federal civilian service, Joshua worked in the business/sales field and office management for over 12 years in Cincinnati and Miami, Florida. He has also served over 19 years in the U.S. Army. After moving to Florida, Joshua transitioned into the Army Reserves, and he continues to serve. Joshua was a Senior NCO (E-7) and Combat Medic before taking a Commission in the Army Reserves as a Health Systems Services Manager.

Joshua Stutzman is originally from Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Thomas More College in Northern Kentucky. Welcome aboard, Joshua!

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director

The Studio

Looking Good, Doing Good!

In 2005, Lisa Cochran started “The Studio”, a beauty salon in Laurel, MS. Lisa’s passion lends itself well to this chosen venture given her extrinsic and intrinsic care for her clients. The salon offers a complete beauty service catalog consisting of all elements of hair and body care. Lisa and her professional staff are qualified to provide the kind of total body service experience. Using the momentum garnered from the first location Lisa opened a second location in Hattiesburg, MS during 2007.

MS WHM Feature

How the SBA helped:

Lisa began her SBA journey by contacting the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an SBA resource partner for help to develop an SBA Low Doc loan package to finance the business.

The SBDC assisted Lisa in developing a business plan to fund a second location backed by an SBA loan. Lisa continues her relationship with the SBDC by receiving business counseling and attending business workshops.

Lisa said, “The SBA, through the SBDC, gave us our start through the LOW DOC program, and will be our partner with our upcoming renovation in our Hattiesburg location. The resources and information we received through this partnership is an essential part of my reading material. I follow successful business models outside of our industry. Numbers tell stories and emotions cannot be trusted.  The SBDC can provide data and statistics to help me follow trends in business through its databases, and all I need to do is to read, and act with the indicators.

In 2020 during the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Lisa was able to obtain funding for her business under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loan) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to sustain the business due to the loss of revenue.

Successful Impact and Outcomes:

  • The Studio has grown with the help of the SBA loan program and business counseling from the SBDC.
  • Company has successfully opened a second location
  • The business has 21 employees
  • Mississippi Top Women Business Owner Listing
  • PPP Loan and EIDL Loan

Michael Arriola

North Carolina District Office

Michael Arriola, Acting District Director

North Carolina Partners with Women’s Business Centers to Honor Women’s History Month

The SBA North Carolina District Office and its Women’s Business Centers teamed up in recognition of Women’s History Month – and events are ongoing through the month of March!

North Carolina has four Women’s Business Centers – in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, and Fayetteville.  A fifth WBC will open on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, the first WBC in the state to be hosted by an HBCU.

Please visit Get Local Assistance (sba.gov) to locate the nearest Women’s Business Center and their events – and make some history of your own!


Pictured above: The SBA team and the Women’s Business Center of Charlotte partnered for “Women’s History Month: Empowering Women with Financial Equity”. From top: SBA Economic Development Specialist Levi Kinnard, SBA Acting District Director Mike Arriola, and WBC of Charlotte Executive Director Natalie Williams.

Richard White

South Carolina District Office

Richard "Gregg" White, District Director


In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to celebrate by sharing a successful women-owned business here in South Carolina!

Grey Ghost Bakery

Grey Ghost Bakery opened their doors in September of 2012. They specialize in selling cookies and baked goods to retailers and high-end grocery store chains. Katherine and Manning Frankstone were in the middle of moving into a different location that would also give them a storefront presence when COVID-19 hit the United States.

Click here to learn how Katherine and Manning Frankstone used the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan to keep their business afloat.

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District Office

LaTanya Channel, District Director


Tennessee District Office (TNDO) – Contracting Outreach and Resiliency Webinars: Learn More on Twitter @SBA_Tennessee

MBE Event TN

On March 16, the SBA TNDO participated in "Access 2021 Nashville: Ready, Willing, Able” webinar hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Midsouth Atlantic Transportation Resource Center (MATRC) where small businesses heard from SBA, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Nashville Metro Transit Authority (MTA), and Nashville Metro Davidson County on 2021 opportunities for diversity business enterprises (DBEs).


Please remember that homeowners, private non-profits, businesses of all sizes, renters, and even some employees and others affected by the December 25th explosion in Nashville may be eligible for SBA disaster assistance.  This includes businesses in the surrounding counties that experienced business interruption resulting from the widespread internet outage that lasted for days after the explosion.  To find out if you are eligible, you may request a one-on-one appointment – –by sending an email to FOCE-help@sba.gov.  Affected entities may also call the SBA Office of Disaster at 1-800-659-2955 between 8a and 8p ET or visit this website: here. Apply today- don’t wait for insurance! The application deadline for physical damage is March 29.  The District Office is hosting final information webinar on March 22 at 5:30 pm CT and you can register here.

Stay tuned for communications on future events that will provide information and training to enable Tennessee small businesses to succeed during recovery and beyond. For more information, check the Tennessee District Office website and follow us on Twitter at @SBA_Tennessee and on Small Business Administration-TN District Office Events | Eventbrite.