The Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration will celebrate Small Business Week from May 26 to June 1. The theme of this year’s Small Business Week is, “Small Business: Persevering and growing your business one day at a time.” Twelve small businesses, business persons and organizations that exemplify sound business practices will be honored at the Small Business Week Award Ceremonies at noon on May 29, at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef on St. Thomas and at noon on May 30, at the St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort and Spa.
“This year was a difficult selection year as there were many companies that have been successful,” said VI SBDC State Director Leonor Dottin. The small businesses that receive an award are continuously evaluated to ensure that their businesses are models for other potential or existing businesses. They must have business continuity, improved management, business growth and be current with their financial commitments.
The VI SBDC named Quality Electric Supply the 2013St. Croix Small Business of the Year. The company’s president is Karl Bauknight. Dottin credited him for having the know-how to take advantage of advance procurement services, through the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program, which allowed him to grow his business. The HUBZone program encourages economic development in historically underutilized business zones through the establishment of preferences. Bauknight will be honored on St. Croix. The 2013 St. Thomas Small Business of the Year award will be presented to Mail Plus, owned and operated by husband and wife team, Anna R. Garcia and Alvery Smith. They have grown their business from one store to four stores.
The 2013 St. John Small Business of the Year award will be given to Café Roma, owned by President John Hiebert, who moved to the territory to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur. “The presentation of this award is bittersweet,” said Dottin. In April 2013, a fire significantly damaged Café Roma. “His story is one of admiration, but today I am saddened by the unfortunate event that destroyed Café Roma just two days after we filmed his success to share at our events,” said Dottin. “Every time I meet with a small business owner I learn from each one of them a little more about persevering.”
The other award winners on St. Thomas are:
- The 2013 Small Business Advocate of the Year – The St. Thomas / St. John Chamber of Commerce. Executive Director: Joseph Aubain and President: Sebastiano Paiewonsky Cassinelli
- The 2013 Nascent Small Business of the Year – Synergy Fitness and Wellness Center. Co-owners: Bonnie Barr and Eileen Short
The other award winners on St. Croix are:
- 2013 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year – LICA Holding, LLC D/B/A Salt River Marina. Chief Operating Officer: Kimberly L. Jones.
- 2013 Entrepreneurial Success Award – PC Landscaping. Co-owners: Peter Clifford and Theresa Clifford
- 2013 Nascent Small Business of the Year – Homeland Collections Portrait Gallery, LLC. Owner: Dr. Denise T. Bennerson
“For 50 years now, SBA has taken the opportunity to publicly recognize the outstanding contributions small businesses make to our nation’s economy,” said Yvette T. Collazo, district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands District Office. “As we celebrate Small Business Week in the Virgin Islands, we thank the men and women entrepreneurs who have invested countless hours and efforts in support of their community. This week is about celebrating their achievements.”
Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee, III founder, chairman and CEO of FreshMinistries and Be The Change International and Mr. Andy E. Harold Jr., president of A. Harold and Associates will be the keynote speakers. “We can learn from both Dr. Lee and Mr. Harold a story of unity, perseverance and collaboration,” Dottin said. “Harold will share his experience of perseverance, and leveraging resources which allowed him to convert his business from a one person shop to an entire network of over 100 team members over the past seven years. During Lee’s presentation we will also learn a little bit more about FreshMinistries on-going mission to establish an Agribusiness Incubator concept in the Virgin Islands.” Dr. Lee and Harold will present lectures entitled "Small Business: Persevering and Growing Your Business One Day at a Time.” Admission to the award ceremony is by advance purchase of tickets. The tickets are $25 for St. Croix and $40 for St. Thomas.
During Small Business Week the VI SBDC is also hosting several workshops to help small business owners and those interested in starting a business. Some of the workshop topics include, an “Introduction to QuickBooks,” “Intermediate QuickBooks,” “Three Ways and Only Three Ways to Grow Any Business,” “Ten Most Common Marketing Mistakes Made By Most Business Owners,” “The Power of Social Media and Search Engine Optimization” and “Evaluating Agribusiness as a profitable business in the Virgin Islands.”
“Virgin Islands Small Business Week is an event that promotes entrepreneurship,” Dottin said. “It is a week where special events take place to assist small businesses further their ideas, thoughts and spirit. It is about preparing yourself accordingly to face the many challenges that business ownership may bring, and empowering yourself to know that no matter what, you can be successful if you persevere, and take it one day at a time, always working towards a brighter future.”
Small Business Week in sponsored by FirstBank Virgin Islands in collaboration with Scotiabank, the VI Economic Development Authority, Banco Popular and Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Resort.
For additional information on Small Business Week, please contact the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center at (340) 776-3206 on St. Thomas and (340) 692-5270 on St. Croix, or the U.S. Small Business Administration at (340) 718-5381.