SBA: Top Resource Partners to be Honored at National Small Business Week

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration is recognizing the 2017 National Small Business Week resource partner awardees for their achievements in advancing small business growth and development. A Denver Women’s Business Center, a Boston SCORE Chapter, an Ohio Small Business Development Center, and a Michigan Veterans Business Outreach Center will be honored during National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.

The winners will be recognized at a ceremony kicking off National Small Business Week on April 30, at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, D.C. The awards will be presented by SBA Administrator Linda McMahon.

The extraordinary work of the SBA’s resource partners is reflected in the yearly one million plus small business owners who receive assistance through the SBA and their resource partner network. Small businesses receiving their assistance are more likely to start a business and successfully obtain financing critical to business growth.

Key factors in determining the winners of the entrepreneurial development awards were excellence and innovation in assisting small businesses, overall client satisfaction, market penetration, and outreach in providing relevant counseling and training services.

This year’s award winners are:

Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
Mi Casa Resource Center – Denver Women’s Business Center
Elena Vasconez, Director of Business Development

Mi Casa Women’s Business Center (WBC) got its start in 1992, and hosts the only WBC in Colorado. Over the years, the center increased in relevance and prominence as a trusted source for quality training and consulting for women and minority entrepreneurs. Leading the WBC since 2010 is Director Elena Vasconez. Under her leadership, the WBC has seen steady and continuous growth in meeting the needs of the bilingual community it serves.

Vasconez leads a team of eight, helping startup and existing businesses through entrepreneurial and computer training, micro lending, financial literacy, legal support and business counseling. Mi Casa’s full-time staff counseled over 700 clients, providing more than 2,200 hours of counseling during fiscal year 2016.

Mi Casa WBC was one of the first centers to pilot the DreamBuilder curriculum. DreamBuilder is a partnership with the SBA and the Thunderbird School of Global Management that has trained over 7,000 entrepreneurs through its online learning program, designed to help women entrepreneurs develop their business plans. The intensive online business skills development curriculum guides women entrepreneurs through interactive exercises and videos, that includes stories from real-world, successful women entrepreneurs.

The center also conducted over 200 trainings, with more than 3,000 participants. In addition, Mi Casa helped its clients receive more than $11.2 million in capital.

SCORE Chapter of the Year
The Greater Boston SCORE Chapter
Laura Colcord, Co-Chair
Howard Fineman, Past Co-Chair

The Greater Boston SCORE chapter is a vibrant, 70-member chapter that covers the City of Boston, Cambridge, and nearby suburbs. The chapter counsels small businesses in 18 locations, with a concentration in its downtown office, shared with the SBA’s Massachusetts District Office.

SCORE Boston has worked diligently to service all of the small businesses in its territory, and has developed top notch counselors who continually concentrate on improving its diversity to effectively communicate across generations. Boston’s dynamic business ecosystem is a hub for hundreds of educational and research institutions that support innovation and high-tech startups. Increasingly, other organizations have sought partnerships with the chapter for workshops, mentoring, and innovative support models for startups and small businesses.

The chapter is led by Laura Colcord, co-chair of Boston SCORE. She joined the chapter in 2015, bringing 35 years of business experience. Colcord has re-invigorated Boston’s workshop program, tripling the number of workshops offered and increasing the number of attendees by more than 400%. Howard Fineman served as co-chair of the chapter in fiscal year 2015-2016, joining SCORE in 2009. Fineman has a wealth of experience and is a SCORE-certified business mentor and current business owner. Boston SCORE continues to build on its legacy of excellent chapter leadership and superior client service.

Small Business Development Center Service (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award
Small Business Development Center at Hamilton Mill
David Riggs, Center Director

Established in 1996 at the Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Hamilton Mill provides a superior resource network for its clients, and works closely with four major Chambers of Commerce in Butler County, Ohio. Through its programs and services, the SBDC at Hamilton Mill provides exceptional entrepreneurial development assistance, training programs and high-end business consulting.

The SBDC at the Mill has shown great performance improvements over the past four years.
The work of center director David Riggs and its business advisor has contributed to the center attaining a statewide 98.3% customer satisfaction score. Despite having only two employees,
it maintains fully staffed offices in two locations, with both counselors meeting clients at each.
The SBDC also provides flexible appointment times for area businesses, including Saturdays.
Its counselors are certified as Kauffman Institute FastTrac facilitators; ensuring entrepreneurial training is of the highest quality.

Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award
VetBizCentral, Flint, Michigan
Matt Sherwood, Executive Director

VetBizCentral is based in Flint, Michigan, yet the organization, otherwise known as a Veterans Business Outreach Center, has been supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of veterans in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan since 2005.

One of the first Veterans Business Centers to be awarded grant funding in 2009, VetBizCentral provides free business counseling to active military, veterans, National Guard members and reservists. Under the leadership of Executive Director Matt Sherwood, the organization conducts regional workshops on starting a business, marketing a business as “veteran owned,” and holds networking events to help veteran business owners connect with federal and state procurement opportunities.

Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. This year National Small Business Week will be recognized April 30 – May 6, with events planned in Washington, D.C., New York City, Indianapolis, Dallas and Fresno, California. For more information on the national events, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

Events throughout the week will be live-streamed on SBA’s website. For more information on National Small Business Week events, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

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