SBA to Honor Wisconsin Small Businesses, Champions, and SBA Partners Receiving National Small Business Week Awards
SBA to Celebrate All Wisconsin Awardees During National Small Business Week May 1-7 with Award Presentations and Winners Panel Discussion at the Small Business Academy May 6
MILWAUKEE – The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Wisconsin office has named seven small businesses and four organizations as Wisconsin’s 2022 SBA National Small Business Week award winners. For more than 51 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. and in Wisconsin each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Here in Wisconsin, SBA winners are highlighted at the virtual Lt. Governor’s Conference on Small Business Development taking place May 3-6.
Wisconsin’s 2022 National Small Business Week award winners are:
David P. Heide, Liliana’s Restaurant, Fitchburg is the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year. He is the owner and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef of Liliana’s Restaurant in Fitchburg, Wis. Since opening in 2007, Liliana’s has garnered more than 60 awards and interest from beyond Wisconsin for its New Orleans-style cuisine. Pre-COVID, Chef Dave quadrupled the restaurant’s profits and increased its net worth with 90 employees. He also provided tens of thousands of dollars annually in non-profit community help. With the onset of COVID-19, the restaurant pivoted to 100% online service with take and bake meals. Dave also collaborated with local chefs and farmers to sell food baskets through his program NOM NOM NOM that was featured on Wisconsin Foodie. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Paycheck Protection Program, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund dollars helped Liliana’s to survive. Chef Dave also runs the nonprofit Little John’s which turns excess food into delicious chef-made meals for 7,000 food-insecure people weekly, including at its pay-what-you-can restaurant. He is on the boards of Madison Originals, SOAR, Latino Chamber of Commerce, and the YWCA, and is a member of the 100 Men of Dane County.
Eric Coffman, Graftobian Make-Up Co., Madison is the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Small Business Exporter of the Year. Graftobian was founded by Eric Coffman’s parents Gene and Evelyn in 1978 and started creating child-safe face paint sticks. When Eric and his wife Susan took over, they expanded into professional-grade theatrical makeup. Today the business makes professional-quality high-definition makeup and body paint for theater, film, TV, fashion, and special effects. The company has participated in in-person and virtual trade missions funded by SBA’s State Trade and Export Program award to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. As a result, Graftobian has exporting relationships in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Africa, the Far East, Mexico, Canada, and beyond. The company is in the process of moving its manufacturing from New York to Madison and will soon open a new facility there. Eric has encouraged other businesses to export and created a how-to video on exporting. Graftobian was nominated by Fanfu Li of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Donisha Nesbitt, CoveredCare, Racine is the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Emerging Small Business of the Year. CoveredCare was started in 2015 to provide compassionate non-medical in-home caregiving. She wanted to address three concerns: matching care providers to individuals, the guilt associated with being a caregiver, and a lack of specialized services to meet specific needs. CoveredCare uses a matchmaking system similar to those of dating websites to match clients with the right caregiver—and the system has been very successful. CoveredCare has seen extensive growth in both staff and in revenues. Donisha has since expanded her services to respite care and Community Based Residential Facility and Passenger Carrying Vehicle training to help make staff more employable. She worked closely with SBA partner WWBIC, participating in training and one-on-one advising, and she also participated in a WWBIC-run accelerator program. She has since become a mentor for this program and a training facilitator for WWBIC, is an accomplished public speaker, a minority owner of two other businesses, and a member of her local BID.
Teresa and Rod Peters, Backroads Coffee and Tea, Hayward is the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Rural Small Business of the Year. The couple started their coffee retail and roasting business 35 years ago. In 2010, they separated the retail business from the roastery and established Backroads Coffee and Tea on Dakota Avenue in downtown Hayward. They also have a kiosk serving both drinks and food along the Berkie trail for those taking advantage of trail activities. With the pandemic, they took advantage of the SBA’s EIDL loan program, which helped them continue the business. They built a new website which saw traffic increase 35% in 2021 with coffee sales, online food orders, accessories and more. They also opened a drive-through along a local highway and established Vibes Bakery to supply the retail outlets with scratch-made baked goods. Teresa is the marketing chair for the local BID, and the business donates to many American Birkinbeiner trail activities, as well as Hayward schools.
Terese Caro of Legacy Redevelopment Corp. in Milwaukee is the SBA Wisconsin Minority Small Business Champion of the Year. Caro was named President of LRC in March 2020 after serving four years as Vice President and Chief Lending Officer. She has thirty years of experience in lending and has managed a portfolio of $500 million. During her tenure, the organization has expanded its reach and implemented key management best practices. Founded in 2003, Legacy Redevelopment Corporation. (LRC) is a non-profit CDFI and an SBA Community Advantage lender dedicated to eliminating blight, building wealth, and leveraging private investments to support small and micro businesses in Milwaukee’s poorest, racially segregated, and underserved neighborhoods. Their technical assistance to businesses addresses access to credit and business training disparities, serving principally business owners of color who hire locally. LRC has also partnered with the City of Racine to manage a micro-enterprise loan program and a targeted small business grant program. Terese is an officer in many organizations supporting social and economic empowerment in Milwaukee, including the Social Development Commission and the African American Chamber of Commerce’s loan committee.
Marie Watkins of Polaris Talent, Racine is the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Women in Business Champion. In 2017, Marie Watkins left a 25-year corporate HR career to start Polaris with the goal of aiding women and minorities in taking their entrepreneurial ideas from a vision to a reality. She sees her mission as lifting others up and being part of the solution in breaking down barriers. Working primarily with small to mid-size tech firms globally, Polaris embeds itself into the businesses to act as their talent acquisition arm. For an all-inclusive monthly fee, they handle workforce development, business planning, and more. Polaris has grown from three to seven employees since its founding and has grown its earnings sevenfold. Marie has applied for B Corporation status (certifying companies for their social and environmental performance) and her employees are supported in volunteering at least 20 hours annually. She has been a speaker and has provided many hours of one-to-one mentoring for the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., a statewide SBA partner supporting women and minority entrepreneurship; gener8tor, and several educational organizations. Polaris used an SBA EIDL loan and grant to navigate COVID.
Thalia Mendez, Regional Project Director of the Greater Milwaukee office of SBA Women’s Business Center WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.) directs the SBA Wisconsin Women’s Business Center of the Year 2022. Thalia has been with WWBIC for nearly 15 years. Thalia began her career at WWBIC in 1997 as Director of Business Incubation and Education Initiatives and then left WWBIC for other economic development positions in the region. She was drawn back to WWBIC in 2020 to oversee daily operations to ensure effective and efficient operations in the Milwaukee office. She coordinates business training, planning logistics, and program creation/management/evaluation and expands local and regional partnerships. In addition to leading the WBC, Thalia oversees the Community Development Block Grant programming for the cities of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and West Allis, as well as the counties of Milwaukee and Waukesha. Thalia is the lead manager for WWBIC’s Black Business Boost, Brew City Match, WWBIC’s Collaborative with Northwest Side CDC and Self-Help Credit Union as well as WWBIC’s longstanding Make Your Money Talk and Wisconsin SAVES initiatives.
Jim Injeski, SCORE Southeast Wisconsin is the SBA Wisconsin SCORE Mentor of the Year 2022. Jim has been an active leader in SCORE’s Southeast Wisconsin chapter for eight years. He has been both the Chapter Chair and Outreach Chair and has led SCORE’s involvement with SBA awards programs both before and during the pandemic. He has been a dedicated and well-respected SCORE mentor over the years. In the last fiscal year, he mentored 41 unique SCORE clients. He has made countless presentations to educate entrepreneurs. Jim’s relationships with other small business supporting organizations throughout the state has worked to the benefit of his and other SCORE clients as well as SCORE itself. Activities from cross-promotions to presentations, training webinars, becoming chamber members, sharing tools and other resources occurred with the African American Chamber, Racine Chamber of Commerce, Latino Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce, and Wisconsin Veteran Chamber of Commerce.
Several small business award winners will share their experiences in a panel discussion, “Resilient and Persistent: Wisconsin SBA ‘s 2022 National Small Business Week Award Winners,” moderated by SBA Wisconsin District Director Eric Ness. The panel takes place on Friday, May 6, 9:00 am, as the final online event of the Lieutenant Governor’s Conference on Small Business Development hosted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. In-person watch parties and networking events are also taking place May 6 in Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Appleton/Oshkosh, Crandon, and Eau Claire.
The conference, which is geared for new and existing small business owners, takes place May 3-6, is free and open to the public, and registration is ongoing for both the virtual and in-person activities.
SBA will also host a nationwide National Small Business Week (NSBW) Virtual Summit May 2-5 featuring discussions, events, and trainings to help small businesses. This year’s NSBW theme, “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” highlights the resilience, ingenuity, and creativity of these award winners who, like millions of small businesses, have navigated challenges from the pandemic and contributed to our nation’s economic comeback.
For updates, follow SBA Wisconsin on Twitter at @SBA_Wisconsin. Small businesses and supporters can also follow, use, and share hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek, and #SmallBizAcademyWI for the Wisconsin conference.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.
About National Small Business Week
For more than 51 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.
NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.
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