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Los Angeles District Office
330 North Brand Suite 1200
Glendale, CA 91203
United States
Phone: 818-552-3201

SBA 8(a) Program Helps Woman / Minority- Owned Firm Change Strategic Direction

Lillian Pernell started L.E. Pernell & Associates as a sole proprietorship. Her initial product line consisted of management consulting services in areas that Ms. Pernell had personally garnered specific experience while working in different industry situations. Office automation, business application, electric data interchange, and funds transfer were several of her areas of expertise in which her clients expressed an interest.

As is often the case with start-up businesses in general and fledgling consulting enterprises in particular, success is incumbent upon building a revenue base sufficient to maintain business continuity and cover fixed costs as quickly as possible. In 1995, the company’s revenues were slightly below $70,000 and the health of the company was seriously in question. In short, Ms. Pernell needed help.

She had heard about the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its Business Development Program referred to as the 8(a) Program, intended to help socially and economically disadvantaged business owners compete in the Federal Procurement Marketplace. The SBA’s 8(a) program assists these firms in gaining equal access to the resources necessary to develop their business and thereby, improve their ability to compete on an equal basis in the mainstream of the economy.

Lillian Pernell understood that the 8(a) program helped federal government agencies locate qualified firms to perform government contracts and earn a profit. She saw this scenario as a way to resuscitate her company and felt positive that she could benefit from the symbiosis such a working relationship would create.

She applied to the SBA’s Los Angeles District Office for admission into the 8(a) Program and was approved in July 1996. Lillian was assigned a Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) to advocate for her with respect to program goals. The BOS is also well versed in business finance, operational matters, and serves as a management consultant to aid the participant during her tenure in the program.

The most important function of an SBA BOS is to create the most fertile environment, within which the participant firm can draw sustenance from the program resources to nourish and grow the business. Despite the appearance of a”safety net” being provided, the firm itself is duly responsible for program outcomes. To be successful, she must take the initiative to access all program components applicable to her particular business, including self-marketing and networking. In short, she must remain committed to live and work the program.

And “work the program” is what Lillian most certainly did. Under the enlightened managerial expertise of the SBA 8(a) team, she found the resources and the direction for her business’s future. Lillian changed the company structure to a corporate entity and underwent a strategic business evaluation and resource redeployment. This involved blending into her business mix opportunities that became available as a result of her 8(a) participation. The study concluded that by shifting focus to auditing single family loan files for compliance with FHA guidelines, the company would establish a competitive niche within which to operate and generate future growth. As a result of the switch, she secured a number of 8(a) and non-8(a) contracts with (HUD) to audit that Agency’s single family loans.

Lillian Pernell’s ability to stay the course and remain focused on her plan has paid handsome dividends for her business. Her annual revenues have grown 25 fold with concomitant profitability and cash flow. Access to additional contracts continues to be extremely promising. Even more significant is the fact that her entrepreneurial spirit has forged and trained a valuable cadre of professionals to insure the future wellbeing of the firm. To her credit Lillian Pernell created 16 jobs through her enterprising endeavors, an accomplishment of which she will forever be proud.

Los Angeles SBA District Director Alberto G. Alvarado praised her accomplishments stating, “Lillian Pernell’s success relates not only to her hard work but to her flexibility within the marketplace. She availed herself of all applicable SBA 8(a) resources and worked the program to her advantage. Lillian has earned the rewards of her initiative.”

L.E. Pernell & Associates, Inc. is located at 13017 Artesia Blvd., Suite 104, Cerritos, CA 90703. The business telephone number is (562) 483-8161 and the Fax is (562) 483-8163. Ms. Pernell can be reached by e-mail at

To contact the SBA Los Angeles District Office for information on 8(a) Business Development call:

  • Armida Brother at (818) 552-3233
  • Catherine Clark at (818) 552-3311
  • Betsy Copelan at (818) 552-3313
  • Bonita Rentie at (818) 552-3310
  • Carlos Johnson at (818) 552-3232

Or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at

SBA Provides The Building Blocks for 8(a) Construction Company’s Growth

How does a start-up construction company go from being a home-based business to arrive at a level where it operates from two offices, has a dozen contracts, supports 15 full-time construction managers at multiple sites on an aggregate of nearly $10 million of awards?

Jaime Pinedo, can answer the question, “Work with the Los Angeles District Office of the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA).” Mr. Pinedo founded his Miramar Construction, Inc. in 1999 with expectations to grow into an entity that could handle large construction and general engineering and public works projects. He recognized the potential in joining the SBA 8(a) program and quickly sought the Agency’s assistance.

The SBA’s Section 8(a) Program is a business development program to help businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals gain equal access to the resources needed to develop their ability to compete on an equal footing in the mainstream of the American Federal Procurement Process. Companies admitted to the program are assigned a Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) to provide one-on-one counseling, schedule training workshops, and to assist the company in its expansion into the realm of federal government contract activity and ultimately achieve full and independent competitive viability.

Miramar received its 8(a) certification in February 2002. Within a short time, Jaime Pinedo was selected to attend an SBA sponsored week-long training program held at Clark Atlanta University. He took full advantage of this scholarship to the prestigious SBA Executive Education Program and was selected as the First Place winner in the Business Case Competition.

Mr. Pinedo received constant communications, encouragement, counsel and guidance from Bonita Rentie, his BOS. In addition, Ms. Rentie aided him in developing an efficient plan to optimize the benefits of the 8(a) program. As a result he was able to effectively market his business and attain further exposure via promotion opportunities at numerous conferences and expositions.

Under the SBA’s aegis, Miramar was trained for and accepted into the mentor Protégé Program and the HUBZone program. Acceptance into these two valuable programs opened the access door to contracts of varying size, scope and complexity. Accessing these contracts helped Miramar assume the critical mass to foster profitable growth and to create additional employment opportunities in construction and engineering.

Miramar Construction was selected as the first contractor to perform two emergency contracts to remove debris from multiple basins for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Because of this specialized experience and his recognition as a solid public works engineer, Jaime was invited to join the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) and was soon asked to sit on the board of this influential organization.

Los Angeles SBA District Director, Alberto G. Alvarado praised Mr. Pinedo stating, “Jaime Pinedo is a great American success story. He arduously worked the program to leverage his resources and thereby maximized the benefits that his company received.”

Jamie Pinedo has indeed benefited from the excellent tutelage thus far provided by the SBA. However, he is not one to rest on his laurels. The lessons the SBA taught him will keep him ever vigilant when it comes to prospecting for new business. For example, at a recent SBA sponsored matchmaking expo held in The Disneyland Hotel, one of the most industrious of the 1,000 companies seeking new business was Miramar Construction. And who was there representing Miramar in its attempts to acquire more blocks to better build his company, Jaime Pinedo, himself?

Miramar Construction is located at 1521 E. Grand Avenue, Pomona, CA, 91766-3808. Telephone (909) 865-1511; Fax (909) 856-1522; E-mail or visit the web site

To contact the SBA Los Angeles District Office for information on 8(a) Business Development call:

  • Armida Brother at (818) 552-3233
  • Catherine Clark at (818) 552-3311
  • Betsy Copelan at (818) 552-3313
  • Bonita Rentie at (818) 552-3310
  • Carlos Johnson at (818) 552-3232

Or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at

SBA Loans Put Wind in Popeye’s Sails

When Mr. Ed Rice was approached to comment on his business success, he humbly replied, “what success” and mused further, “It’s hard work and ever-present”, intimating that success in entrepreneurship comes from the complete dedication of oneself to the enterprise in question. You better believe that Ed Rice is committed to his Popeye’s stores. No matter what time one visits the operations for a Cajun Cuisine Catch-up, he or she will most likely encounter Ed Rice involved in any one of the myriad management details, or even pitching in to serve the customers or to staff the cash register.

A demanding but fair manager, Ed has made it his policy to staff his enterprise with the best and most well rounded students from the neighboring high schools. His interview process involves a review of the individual job seeker’s report card with special stress placed on attendance record, comments from teachers, and grades. Mr. Rice feels that, if the student is a responsible team player and is respectful at school, he will undoubtedly treat Ed’s customers in a manner worthy of their patronage.

Ed Rice is a true inner city entrepreneur. At age 19, having just graduated from Fremont High School, he started his own real estate office, and successfully ran it for 10 years. In 1985 Ed opened his first Popeye’s franchise, the 103rd Street store, using a 7(a) SBA guaranteed loan underwritten by American Pacific State Bank, an institution which was subsequently merged into City National Bank. As one would expect from a borrower as responsible as Mr. Rice, the loan was repaid in advance of when required. The 18 jobs created are a living tribute to Mr. Rice’s business acumen and vision.

Unfortunately, Ed’s Watts restaurant was damaged during the 1992 civil unrest; however, the structure was reconditioned via an SBA disaster loan used in conjunction with his business insurance. An interesting anecdote relating to this establishment centers on the fact that Popeye’s was the food of choice of the National Guard in 1992. In fact, Mr. Rice cooked for and fed those guardsmen assigned to keep peace in Watts right out of the 103rd Street store.

SBA Los Angeles District Director, Alberto Alvarado offered praise stating, “Ed Rice epitomizes the meaning of the word entrepreneur. Ed assumed tremendous risk, expecting the concomitant return on his investment in his first venture. His dedication and tenacity earned him the appropriate rewards.”

Employing the ingenuity referenced by Director Alvarado, and by using personal capital and CRA funds, Mr. Rice followed the traditional path taken by most entrepreneurs. He parlayed some of what he earned and everything he learned from his first success and opened another Popeye’s in the Crenshaw District. This second franchise, at 3268 West Slauson Avenue, is operated in the same fashion as the original site. The 14 employees, whose jobs were created through Ed Rice’s enterprising spirit, remain focused on excellent customer service, an integral part of the core competencies of Ed Rice’s company.

Ever the entrepreneur, Mr. Rice is in the planning stages to open another Popeye’s. Feasibility studies and site consideration are currently in process. Expectations are for the third operation to create 20 new jobs in the Central Los Angeles community. Ed Rice may, again, call upon SBA financing to help provide clear sailing for this new Popeye’s franchise.

The Watts Popeye’s can be contacted by calling (323) 566-9402. The Crenshaw District location can be reached at (323) 569-0071.

For additional information on SBA Loan Programs and Services please call the Los Angeles District Office at (818) 552- 3210 or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at

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