WHO: Dr. Dick and Mrs. Sharon Davis, CEO, owners of Davis Companies, Inc.; U.S. Small Business Administration Nebraska District Director Leon Milobar; and Enterprise Bank Assistant Vice-President and Commercial Loan Officer Katey Lenczowski.
WHAT: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Nebraska District Office invites members of the press and other dignitaries to attend an event recognizing Dr. Dick and Mrs. Sharon Davis as the SBA National Minority Small Business Champions for 2012.
Dr. Dick and Mrs. Sharon Davis were nominated for the award by Enterprise Bank Assistant Vice-President and Commercial Loan Officer Katey Lenczowski.
Dr. and Mrs. Davis won the Nebraska SBA district and Region VII SBA competition for the award before being judged nationally against nine other regional winners.
The SBA names only one outstanding individual or couple as the National Minority Small Business Champion award recipients. The national winner for this award is selected based on their efforts to promote minority-owned small business, volunteer time and services to small business interest groups, advocate for the cause of small business through legislation, and use professional expertise to assist small business owners.
WHERE: Davis Companies, Inc., 1313 Cuming St., Suite 200, Omaha.
WHEN: April 6, 2012, 11 a.m.
Note on SBA Lending in Nebraska: Over the past 18 months, more than 750 SBA-backed loans for $232 million have been approved for small businesses in Nebraska, creating more than 3,000 new jobs and helping keep more than 7,700 jobs in the state.
Background on Event Principals
Davis Companies is the lead organization of the businesses owned and operated by the Davis family of Omaha. For more than 40 years the firm and its affiliates have provided risk solutions, insurance, bonding, and consulting services to its business clients. By the mid-1980s, the company’s operated in five states and six urban centers.
Dr. Davis has spent the last five years volunteering with local community groups and policy boards in an attempt to stimulate the creation of minority business enterprises in the Omaha area, where growth has lagged behind nationwide minority-owned entrepreneurship.
“We are committed, reinforced by our time and money, to reversing that alarming trend,” Davis emphasized. “This award acknowledges the tireless efforts and worthy accomplishments of our past and are a prediction of our company’s future.”
“We are pleased our national judges recognized the hands-on work and commitment made by Dr. and Mrs. Davis to revitalize North Omaha and its small business community,” said Patricia Brown-Dixon, SBA’s Region VII Administrator.
Davis Companies has developed a 2020 vision to re-tool Omaha’s minority business, investment, and “professional eco-system,” Davis added. That strategy includes an entrepreneurial education component; investment and incubation of local small business projects; and major partnerships with national firms. The family’s newly formed Davis Business Ventures focuses on transition and transformation – providing economic empowerment and wealth building to the next generation of diverse business leaders and thinkers.
“We look forward to putting our core values into action…ask the most of ourselves before we ask of others, and that an equity dollar is as important as a charitable ten dollar gift. We are grateful for this recognition and excited about the possibilities for our community, and the city, this national spotlight provides,” Davis added,
Dr. Davis has been a gridiron superstar, a successful and notable educator, and a mainstay in Nebraska’s business community. As CEO since 1991 of Davis Companies, Inc., he and his wife, Sharon, have helped guide the family firm into the longest and broadest expansion in the company’s history.
In 2006, they shifted focus from expanding the company’s national footprint to seeking volunteer opportunities to shape the community’s approach to economic development and improvements. They took key roles with the African-American Empowerment Network (AAEN), partnership with Omaha Public Schools’ Careers for Kids Initiatives, the Chamber of Commerce’s North Omaha Development Project and the Mayor’s Task Force on Small and Emerging Businesses.
As a result, Careers for Kids has secured additional scholarships and funding commitments worth about $4 million toward post-secondary education. The long-term goal is to make entrepreneurship an integral part of developing a strong business sense in Omaha’s minority youth population, motivating graduates to create viable new companies. This effort continues in their dedication to education for area minority youth; in 1989, the couple co-founded the Davis-Chambers Scholarship fund. The program has grown into a $3 million endowment with a track record of already helping 346 promising students pay for college.
On the Omaha Small Business Task Force, Dr. Davis helped develop new rules for the city’s diversity-friendly small and emerging business ordinances. With the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, he helped lead efforts for building capability and capacity for small and emerging businesses. Both initiatives involved lobbying local public dignitaries, Nebraska’s congressional delegation and the State’s executive and legislative officials for policies to create better opportunities for small and minority-owned business.
Dr. Davis also has put together a small economic team of talented people he calls the “young guns,” originally an outgrowth of the AAEN economic task force. The panel has studied various commercial and industry remedies for economically depressed North Omaha to develop a six-step economic empowerment plan scheduled for release in 2012.
By 2011, they started putting the pieces of the vision into place, which included physically being a part of the community they hoped to help.
The SBA, along with the Nebraska Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) and Enterprise Bank, helped finance a relocation of the company’s headquarters to a district revitalization area in an underutilized part of the city through the federal agency’s 504 Loan Program, a powerful economic development loan program that provides business financing, while promoting business growth, and job creation.
The Davis Companies’ building sits in the shadow of one of Omaha’s premiere attractions, TD Ameritrade Park, home of the NCAA Men’s College World Series. The four-story multi-use structure, which utilized minority-owned firms, was a partnership between a Davis Company’s affiliate, Davis Business Ventures, and Bluestone Development.
The move adds the company’s growing base of sales and services contracts as an economic magnet to the low-income community, with the hope of paving the way for new minority businesses to emerge, incubate, and bolster the local economy.