SBA Talks Equity Across the Southeast

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SBA Southeast Region 

March 2022

u s small business administration

Regional Administrator Allen Thomas Visits Miami Highlighting Equity & Opportunity

Allen M. Thomas

SBA Regional Administrator Allen M. Thomas joined Administrator Isabella Guzman and SBA Associate Administrator for Government Contracting & Business Development, Bibi Hidalgo, U.S. Representatives Maria Salazar and Frederica Wilson, and Florida SBA Director Malcolm Richards to a visit to Miami. The visit highlighted the importance of government contracting for entrepreneurs, equity throughout entrepreneurship, and small business owners who spoke about the pandemic challenges they faced and how they utilized SBA and Biden-Harris Administration recovery programs to overcome them.  Regional Administrator Allen Thomas stayed in Miami for an extra day meeting with Community Navigators, Miami Dade County Mayor Cava and key stakeholders in Miami. Please see below for the photos to tell the story. 

Miami Dade College Roundtable

Roundtable with Representative Maria Salazar:

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Rep. Maria Salazar, and Regional Administrator Allen Thomas participate in a roundtable discussion with entrepreneurs, resource partners, lenders, students, and small business stakeholders at Miami Dade College.

olds Havana

Olds’ Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina:

SBA Southeast Regional Administrator Allen Thomas, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Associate Administrator for Government Contracting & Business Development Bibi Hidalgo met with Mr. Eliesteban Mena, owner, Olds’ Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina. Olds’ Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina is located on the famous “Calle Ocho” of Little Havana that is visited by tourists and locals alike searching for the Cuban heartbeat of Miami.

Wilson RT

Roundtable with Representative Frederica Wilson:

Next, Regional Administrator Allen Thomas, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, SBA Associate Administrator for Government Contracting & Business Development Bibi Hidalgo participated in a roundtable discussion. The roundtable was held at Aero Marine Interior, Inc. (AMI). AMI is an FAA Approved Repair Station specializing in Aircraft Interior Repairs. Their services include full Aircraft Interior Overhaul, Refurbishing, Upholstering, and Carpeting. The Tuckers(owners) were able to talk about and display how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped their business to stay afloat throughout the pandemic and they were able to pay and maintain their staff through challenging times.


Miami-Dade County Visit:

Regional Administrator Allen Thomas made a visit to the Miami Dade County offices where he along with SBA Florida Director Malcolm Richards and SBA Marketing & Outreach Specialist Alyn Fernandez visited with Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and discussed her top priorities and how SBA may play a vital role for the small businesses of Miami Dade County.

FL Navigators RT

Community Navigator Visit:

Regional Administrator Allen Thomas met with Brian Van Hook, regional director of the Florida SBDC at FIU and the Community Navigator Hub: the Florida SBDC serves as the hub of the Miami-Dade Business Navigator Program and the spokes: 6 Miami-Dade organizations to support small businesses and help create jobs:

Photo of three people around a laptop with the following text, Virtual Women's Business Summit on March 29-30, 2022

News From Across the Southeast

Thomas Todt District Director

Alabama District 

Thomas Todt, District Director

Alabama Seeks to share SBA Resources about Loan Programs

The Alabama District Office’s Lender Relations Specialist, Roderick Perkins, and Outreach and Marketing Specialist, Megyn Rodriguez, led a pilot program at the start of the new year with SBA Loans 101 and 201. The goal of the programs is to inform small business owners and entrepreneurs about key eligibility, key steps to obtaining loans, how to find resources partner assistance, the details of each SBA loan program and how to improve likelihood of approval. Over the course of eight virtual events, they were able to provide outreach and answer questions to 355 plus participants of diverse backgrounds. Are you interested in attending? They do not need to be taken in any order. Register today while the program still lasts: For 101 or for 201! Check out other local events for business plans, government contracting, and so much more!

Alabama 101



Register today while the program still lasts: For 101 or for 201! Check out other local events for business plans, government contracting, and so much more!

Jon Malcolm Richards

North & South Florida Districts

Jon "Malcolm" Richards, District Director

North Florida:

The North Florida District Office hosted 2 events to support Women’s History Month.

 The district started the month with an event designed to help women learn about franchising. Presenters included Heidi Simos, The Entrepreneur’s Source; Jonel Hein, SBA North Florida Deputy District Director; Frances Fisher, SCORE Counselor; and Natalie Hall, SBA Economic Development Specialist (pictured below).

WHM 2 Jacksonville


The district also hosted a celebration event to highlight women business owners that have made it through the pandemic. The event featured a keynote speech from Natalie Madeira Cofield, SBA Assistant Administrator for Office of Women’s Business Ownership and Jackie Geary, Director of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center. Jonel Hein, SBA North Florida District Director spoke about statistics for women’s business ownership. The event then followed the journey of 3 women business owners during the pandemic: Mary Jane Culhane, Founder/Partner Culhane Irish Pub; Cantrece Jones, CEO, Acuity Design Group (ADG); and Indy Vega, CEO, CCI Group. The event was planned and coordinated by Ana Grogan, SBA Marketing and Outreach Specialist.

South Florida:

Celebrate Financial Literacy Month with the SBA South Florida District all April long!  For more information and to register please click link below:

SBA South Florida Financial Literacy Month 


Terri Denison

Georgia District

Terri L. Denison, District Director


In honor of Women's History Month, We are Honored to Highlight Bella Hanono Family Dentistry

Bella Georgia

Dr. Bella Hanono arrived in Atlanta in the early 1990s after graduating from dental school at the University of Texas in Houston. She learned DeKalb and Fulton counties had a large Hispanic population and saw an opportunity to open a family dentistry practice to help fill a gap in dental services for the Hispanic population. The patients felt very comfortable when the provider was able to communicate with them in the same language.

Shortly after the pandemic started, Dr. Hanono contacted the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to request assistance for her business, Bella Hanono Family Dentistry. The chamber recommended she reach out to one of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s resource partners, ACE Women’s Business Center, for counseling on COVID-19 relief options available for small businesses. “I reached out to ACE Women’s Business Center when my financial institution was not able to help me,” she said.

Dr. Hanono decided her best option was to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. After she applied for the EIDL loan directly through the SBA, she decided to also apply for a PPP. “I scheduled a meeting with a coach who assisted me with the application process and submission through ACE,” she said. “Everyone was extremely helpful – explaining the options of the SBA relief funds, application process, answering questions and ensuring that the applications were submitted accurately to the SBA.”

Early in 2021, when the 2nd Draw of the PPP was available, Dr. Hanono contacted the Women’s Business Center again. A coach assisted her with the second application and she was funded by ACE again. They staff also guided her through the PPP forgiveness process. “Thanks to these funds, I was able to keep my workforce employed and continue operating during the COVID-19 crisis.”

“I am very pleased with the service I received, and it was a wonderful experience. Thank you to ACE and the Women’s Business Center for helping my business during these unprecedented times for all of us. I am also extremely grateful to U. S. Small Business Administration for making the relief funds available to small business owners like me.”

Robert Coffey

Kentucky District

Robert Coffey, District Director


SBA Celebrates Women’s History Month in Kentucky

The Black Italian

SBA helps women entrepreneurs launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace. You can connect with the training and funding opportunities specifically for women.

And every March, SBA celebrates Women’s History Month and highlights SBA resources for Women-owned business. We also like to highlight inspiring small business success stories.

So, what happens when you fuse traditional Italian recipes with soul food grilling? Read Paula Hunter’s story: how she tapped into SBA resources to her start and grow The Black Italian Grill Kitchen – and survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the Women Owned Small Business Success Stories below – and many others – at and on Twitter at @SBA_Kentucky:

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District

Janita R. Stewart, District Director


Mississippi Women’s History Month Event

“She Started It”

On March 10th, in celebration of Women’s History Month, the SBA Mississippi District Office in collaboration with the Mississippi Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Alcorn State University and Jackson State University held a virtual event “She Started It” on various types of SBA resources for women entrepreneur. The attendances were welcomed by Bridget Johnson Fells, Economic Development Specialist/DOTR. Opening remarks were provided by Janita R. Stewart, Mississippi District Director. The Mississippi WBCs provided information on their services and three Mississippi Women-Owned Small Businesses served on the Panel sharing their small business journey.  

"She Started it!"

She Started It

Mike Arriola

North Carolina District

Michael Arriola, District Director


North Carolina SBA Lenders Honored in Asheville

SBA leadership took part in the Southeast Small Business Lenders Conference (SESBLC) in Asheville recently. About 500 lenders and service providers from across the Southeast participated.

AT Asheville

Southeast Regional Administrator Allen Thomas Addresses a sold out event- over 500 lenders

North Carolina Lender Awards

NC’s SBA lender award ceremony, from left: Regional Administrator Allen Thomas; Lead Lender Rrelations Specialist Karen Hoskins; Live Oak Bank rep Sherrill Stockton, BEFCOR rep Elaine Fairman, Mountain BizWorks rep Kelly Foster, Fidelity Bank rep Kale Gaston; and NC District Director Mike Arriola.


SBA Honors Women’s History Month with:

 Concrete Roses Life Center

Throughout her life, Shaukura Brown has regularly been one to express compassion and a desire to help others.  She is known by her friends and family for her warm, empathetic heart.

“I was fortunate to be positioned in life where I had the financial means to take care of my

responsibilities, and to invest in my destiny and purpose,” said Brown. “Yet, what I had in life was not enough for me.  I felt compelled to do more. I had to give back.”

Brown’s education and work experience stem from the computer science world but one could easily overlook that based on her passion for social work.  In fact, she wanted to start her own small business but was unsure how to put all the pieces together.

“My thoughts and ideas were spinning in my head, and my ambition fueled my energy-level,” said Brown.  “I searched the Internet and ended up stumbling across the Women's Business Center (WBC) of Charlotte.  I immediately scheduled a meeting.”

On the day of her first appointment with the WBC counselor, Brown sat in her car outside the WBC and role-played the introduction she would momentarily give.

She did not know what to expect from the meeting but promised herself that she would at least walk away with progress toward her business goal.

“When I walked into the WBC, I was caught off guard by the warm greeting and smiles that I received,” said Brown. “The staff was just as excited about my business idea as myself.”

Following that day, Brown went on to take one of the WBC’s entrepreneurial classes, and left feeling like a subject matter expert.

“The Women's Business Center never made me feel like I was just a number but more like I was in a network or sisterhood,” said Brown.  “The staff keeps you on your toes and holds you accountable for your action items.”

Brown is now the owner of the mental health and well-being business, Concrete Roses Life Center.  The Center has more than 50 staff members and clinicians dedicated to providing services to the public.  Her business also offers mentoring services for Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools and has additional programs with community partners to provide youth therapy, workforce development, and parenting enrichment programs.

Gregg White

South Carolina District

Richard "Gregg" White

The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. On April 5th and 6th, join us for two classes that will educate you on the process of selling to the federal government.


April 5th – The System for Awards Management (SAM)

Learn how to register for, navigate and use the federal government's System for Award Management (SAM) at This is the first step in federal contracting.



April 6th – Federal Contracting 101

Once registered in SAM, learn how to expand your contracting opportunities through federal certifications. This class will discuss the certification requirements, the process to become certified, and how to use the certifications to increase business revenue.



For more upcoming events, visit our calendar at

LaTanya Channel

Tennessee District

LaTanya Channel, District Director


SBA Regional Administrator Allen Thomas took part in two Tennessee District Office events.

He attended a planning session with the Disaster Assistance Leadership Team to discuss ongoing recovery efforts for businesses and residents affected by the March 2020 tornadoes that tore through the heart of Middle Tennessee, the catastrophic August 2021 floods of Waverly, TN, and December 2021 severe storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes impacting West Tennessee counties.

On, March 9, 2022, he participated in the US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville Small Business Industry Day. Over 100 small businesses attended theme Back-2-Business virtual event learned about USACE programs and future government contracting opportunities within the Department of Defense. 

Please continue to check the Tennessee District Office Eventbrite pages for upcoming webinars to learn what it takes to start and grow a business and financing options!

Regional Administrator Allen Thomas & Kem Fleming, Director of Field Operations Center East, Office of Disaster Assistance meet in Tennessee to discuss the impact of the destruction from natural disasters

RA Thomas Kem Flkeming