SBA Region 4 News To Share

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March 2014

SBA Region 4 News To Share

Brought to you by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region IV Office

Cassius BUtts

Cassius Butts

Regional Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration

Self-Employed Deadline March 31st- Don't Miss Out!

As the Regional Administrator for the Southeast Region of the Small Business Administration, my goal is to make sure small businesses across the Southeast have the information they need about the Affordable Care Act to make informed decisions that are best for their businesses. 

With new Health Insurance Marketplaces (also referred to as Exchanges) open, self-employed business owners have more options than ever to find affordable health care coverage.  Self-employed individuals and other consumers can purchase private insurance coverage from a range of options and depending on income and residency, potentially qualify for additional subsidies like Medicaid or tax credits.

Coming up, there are some important dates self-employed business owners need to know if they want to sign up for coverage for this year.

For self-employed small business owners, open enrollment for 2014 coverage ends March 31, 2014.  The exception is if you have a qualifying life event that provides you with a special enrollment period such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job.

The next Open Enrollment period is proposed to begin on November 15, 2014 for health insurance coverage that begins January 1, 2015.

You can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year.

Why enroll? First, increased access to quality, affordable health care will make it easier for potential entrepreneurs to go out on their own instead of staying at larger firms simply because of "job lock” or the lack of access to affordable insurance outside of their current employment.  Additionally, small business owners have historically paid as much as 18% more for health care coverage than larger companies.  The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field, slows cost growth, and with consumer protections like insurance rate reviews and a ban on denying coverage for preexisting conditions in place, provides greater certainty that small business owners can access the coverage they need, when they need it.  If you don’t have health coverage in 2014, you may have to pay a penalty. You don’t have to pay the penalty if you enroll in a plan by March 31, 2014.

To find an insurance plan that meets your needs today, check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) insurance finder tool.  By answering just a few simple questions, you’ll be able to locate health insurance plans in your state and explore whether there are local facilities in your area that provide free or reduced-cost health care. 

To browse coverage options, assess potential subsidies, and purchase your plan online through the individual marketplace, simply go to

For more information about other provisions affecting self-employed business owners under the Affordable Care Act, go to

Brian Castro

SBA's National Ombudsman Looks to Save Small Businesses Money and Hardships Across the Southeast

Regional Administrator Cassius Butts and Brian Castro, Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness and National Ombudsman, recently heard directly from small business owners in the central Florida area.  At a series of regulatory fairness roundtables last month in Orlando and Daytona Beach, small business owners reported on problems they confront as a result of federal regulations that can be unclear in terms of what is required to comply and when they apply.  Others entrepreneurs raised issues around delays in being paid on government contracts and perceived unfairness in audits and investigations by regulators. 

In Orlando on February 12, the first roundtable was held at the Winter Meeting of the National 8(a) Association, which has been a strong partner with the Office of the National Ombudsman on regulatory fairness issues and outreach.  The Metropolitan Orlando Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted the next roundtable on February 13, followed by a visit and roundtable at Bethune-Cookman University, a strategic partner of the SBA in Daytona Beach.  The support of SBA’s Regional and District teams, in particular District Director Wilfredo Gonzalez and Area manager Ed Ramos, was key to the success of each of these roundtables. 

Following the roundtables, regulatory issues identified by attendees are raised with the relevant agency, which undertakes a high level fairness review of the issue reported.  Brian and his team then work with the small business owner and agency partners to ensure that small businesses are treated equitably and regulated in a balanced, proportionate manner.

For more information, visit or call the Ombudsman’s Regulatory Fairness Helpline at 888-REG-FAIR (888-734-3247)

If you have a regulatory comment involving a federal agency that you wish to report on behalf of a small business, a small government entity (population 50,000 or less) or a small nonprofit organization, visit

What's happening For Small Business in YOUR Area?

Tom Todt

Alabama District Office

Tom Todt, SBA District Director

District Director Tom Todt and District International Trade Officer Brent McMahan attended the 2014 Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 5, at the State Capitol. The ceremony was part of the Export Alabama Alliance Luncheon. The Alabama District Office is a member of the Export Alabama Alliance along with the Alabama International Trade Center, a member of the Alabama Small Business Development Center Network. The award program, coordinated by the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Export Alabama Alliance, includes small, medium, and large businesses, as well as new-to-export companies from every region of the state. Companies selected are from the manufacturing, service and agribusiness sectors. In 2013, $19.3 billion in Alabama-made products and services were shipped to 200 countries. Eight Alabama exporting companies were recognized by Governor Robert Bentley for excellence in international trade.

Also, Several Alabama 8(a) firms recently took advantage of 7(j) training opportunities at the District Office. The training, presented by Quality Compliance & Management, Inc. included Marketing & Capture Management, Technical Proposal Writing, and Cost Proposal Writing.  The training was designed to assist small companies in sharpening their business development acumen and increasing their win ratio for federal contracts. The training was provided free-of-cost to the 8(a) participant companies. For future opportunities, please contact the SBA Alabama District Office

Wilfredo Gonzalez

North Florida District Office

Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, District Director

The North Florida District Office signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum (SAM) with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) on March 20, 2014. FAMU is a Historically Black University that has been committed to academic excellence and civic engagement in the Tallahassee community since 1887. Interim University President Dr. Larry Thompson signed the SAM with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SAM will signify a joint effort by the University and SBA to promote small business through education and community outreach. The signed SAM will allow both entities to work closer together to ensure small minority business interests are adequately addressed in the area.

Pancho Marrero

South Florida District Office

Francisco "Pancho" Marrero, District Director

South Florida District office signed three new strategic alliances this past month.

The first SAM was signed Feb. 27 with the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County.  Assistant District Director Marketing and Outreach Area 2 Vince Lopresti signed the alliance with chamber president Terry Burroughs. 

A second SAM was signed March 7, with the Minority Business Development Agency(MBDA) Center Miami during the 3rd Annual Business Woman’s Conference.  Assistant District Director Marketing and Outreach Area 1 Althea Harris signed the alliance with Executive Director MBDA Marie Gill.

The third SAM was signed March 19, with Hialeah Chamber of Commerce & Industries (HCCI) during their monthly luncheon.  District Director Francisco “Pancho” Marrero signed the agreement with HCCI President Daniel Hernandez.

The district is wrapping up its recruiting campaign for Miami’s inaugural Emerging Leaders Class.  With one week remaining, more than 50 small business owners have registered. 

Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County President Terry Burroughs shakes hands with SBA South Florida Assistant District Director Marketing and Outreach Area 2 Vince Lopresti following the SAM signing ceremony.  The SAM will remain in effect for two years.


Terri Denison

Georgia District Office

Terri Denison, District Director

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration is teaming up with Yelp to present a free, in-person event to help Georgia small business owners engage with online reviewers and manage their online reputation.  The event will take place on Thursday, April 3rd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Kennesaw State University SBDC, KSU Center – Room 400, 3333 Busbee Drive, Kennesaw GA 30144.  (Phone: 770.423.6450)

 The 90 minute event will include: 

  • An overview of how small businesses can join the conversations that are happening about their businesses online
  • Panel discussion featuring best practices for getting started with online review sites with perspectives from business owners and reviewers
  • Tips on how to handle critical feedback and respond to reviews
  • Ways to generate more buzz by creating exciting promotions and monitoring customer leads.
  • Informal networking with light refreshments

For more information about the SBA and Yelp partnership, visit:

WHAT:   “Success With Online    Reviews”

WHEN:   Thursday, April 3rd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

WHERE:  Kennesaw State University SBDC, KSU Center – Suite 500,  3333 Busbee Drive, Kennesaw GA 30144. (Phone: 770.423.6450)

HOW:  Register Here:

Ralph Ross

Kentucky District Office

Ralph Ross, District Director

The Women’s Business Center of Kentucky held a 2-day event on March 13 – 14 in Louisville, KY.  Over 75 attended a Networking Reception on Thursday, March 13 in the evening. On Friday, March 14, SBA Kentucky District Office Director Ralph Ross welcomed almost 300 attendees to a breakfast and networking event, followed by a series of business workshops, a power luncheon and a diversity and inclusion Event and Business Expo with about 80 exhibitors from government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit institutions and private sector businesses, many of which seek certified women-owned businesses qualified to fulfill contracts.

Keynote speakers included Alice Houston, community leader and President and CEO of Houston-Johnson, Inc., which was the Tri-State Minority Supplier Development Council “Supplier of the Year” and is a supplier of technology-based logistics and materials management services to the automotive, consumer products and technology industries; Patricia Burke, President of Office Environment Company, a leading provider of workspace solutions, including office furniture and office products, for more than a century; and Dawne Gee, WAVE TV News Anchor and Host of WAVE Country with Dawne Gee. 

Janita Stewart

Mississippi District Office

Janita Stewart, District Director

Region IV’s HBCU Initiative

As part of the continuing efforts in SBA Region IV to engage historically black colleges and universities in entrepreneurship education and outreach, Regional Administrator Cassius Butts along with Mississippi District Director Janita Stewart and Deputy District Director Gary Reed, will participate in a Strategic Alliance Memorandum signing ceremony on Wednesday, March 26th with Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, MS.  College President Valmadge Towner, along with community and economic development officials within the counties served by the college will be present for this event.   

A Focus on Youth Entrepreneurship

SBA Mississippi will participate in the “SEP Symposium III – “My Future, Today” hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).  The Southern Entrepreneurship Program is part of a series focusing on entrepreneurship education to students.  A highlight of these events is the business plan competition amongst the student participants.  These events will be held on Tuesday, March 25th at Holmes Community College in Ridgeland, MS and on Wednesday, March 26th at the USM campus in Hattiesburg.

Mississippi Congressional Update

SBA Mississippi will host an information session for staff members of the Mississippi Congressional Delegation.  In addition to SBA staff providing pertinent updates, SBA resource partners including the SBDC and Women’s Business Center have been invited to participate and update information from SCORE will be shared.  Federal agencies invited to participate include HUD, IRS, USDA FSA, USDA Rural Development and GSA.  The session will take place on Wednesday, April 9th.  

Left to Right: Dr. Rolonda Brown, Enrollment/eLearning Specialist of Coahoma Community College; Dr. Valmadge Towner, CEO/President of Coahoma Community College;  SBA District Director Janita Stewart, Regional Administrator Cassius Butts, Gary Reed, SBA Deputy District Director

Caohoma SAM

Lynn Douthett

North Carolina District Office

Lynn Douthett, District Director

SBA North Carolina District Director Ms. Lynn L. Douthett presented Dr. Melissa DeRosier, founder and CEO of Cary-based 3C Institute with a special Award of Excellence for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. The firm develops specialized technologies for health, including intelligent games, dynamic e-training platforms, and software systems to support quality healthcare practices.

DeRosier received almost $25 million in Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants and contracts awarded by agencies including the U.S. Department of Education,   National Institutes for Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The SBIR program provides funding to explore feasibility of an innovative idea or technology, expand research and development and ultimately bring the innovation to the marketplace for commercialization.

In 2011, 3C received a Tibbetts Award, given to exemplary firms that have received SBIR funding.

Dr. DeRosier, a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, started the company in 2001. 3C Institute now has a staff of 75 full-time employees and continues to grow. 

SBA North Carolina District Director Ms. Lynn L. Douthett presented Dr. Melissa DeRosier, founder and CEO of Cary-based 3C Institute with a special Award of Excellence for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

Lynn NC Award of Excellence

Elliott Cooper

South Carolina District Office

Elliott Cooper, District Director

Regulatory Fairness Forum for Small Business

Monday, April 21, 2014 | Charleston, SC

A forum for small business owners to discuss federal regulations, compliance audits, regulatory fines, and enforcement actions impacting small businesses.

The SBA presents this Regulatory Fairness Forum to facilitate a dialogue on federal regulatory issues impacting small businesses and to highlight the range of resources available to small business owners from the SBA and the Office of the National Ombudsman.


SBA National Ombudsman Brian Castro will host a conversation with Charleston area small business owners, and other representatives of the small business community.


The National Ombudsman holds Regulatory Fairness hearings and forums across the country to give small business owners a means to comment on unfair enforcement actions, government audits, and excessive fines or regulations. The Ombudsman directs specific issues raised by participants to the appropriate Federal agency for a high-level fairness review, and works across government to address those concerns, reduce regulatory burdens, and help small businesses grow.

WHERE: Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

4500 Leeds Avenue, Suite 100 - Boardroom

North Charleston, SC 29405

WHEN: Monday, April 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

All members of the small business community, trade organizations, chambers of commerce, and media are invited to attend. Those wishing to report a federal regulatory concern confidentially will have the opportunity to do so privately at the forum.

There is no cost to attend. Should you have any questions, please contact José Méndez in the Office of the National Ombudsman at (888) 734-3247, or Mary Graham at (843) 805-3043. For more information, visit

Walter Perry

Tennessee District Office

Walter Perry, District Director

 Many activities are being held during March in the Tennessee District reaching small business owners across the Volunteer State. A highly successful event took place on March 12 with 300 attending the City of Memphis Government Procurement Vendor Fair as a part of the White House Strong Cities – Strong Communities initiative.   A presentation was offered on the campus of Lemoyne Owen College by District Director Walter Perry and Gloria Armstead on how to participate in the 8(a) Business Development and Historically Underutilized Business Zone procurement programs.    In the Affordable Care Act area, staff members Keri Wolfe and Jacqueline Merritt are conducting ACA outreach events in both Knoxville and Chattanooga.  Both Perry and David Tiller have appeared on radio shows to inform small business owners on the upcoming ACA Open Enrollment Deadline of March 31st.   These radio appearances include “The Money Show” on WFSK, an HBCU radio station on the campus of Fisk University in Nashville, and on SiriusXM Satellite Radio with American Baptist College, another HBCU institution in Nashville.   In Government Contracting, Kena Dixon conducted a Government Contracting Workshop at the District Office on March 12th attended by 23 firms inclusive of current 8(a) companies and those interested in becoming an 8(a) firm.  As Veterans Business Development Officer, Tiller presented a two day Boots-to-Business event at Millington Naval Support Activity near Memphis on March 18th and 19th, and visited the local National Guard Armory in the area to advance SBA programs available to military service members.




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