Cubby’s Child Care Center, a Bridgeport, W.Va. small business has seen its share trials and tribulations the past year. After having their request for having property within the city limits of Bridgeport rezoned for expansion of a new facility denied, they were unsure of their future.
But, after discussing the issue with the Mayor of Bridgeport and the developer of Charles Pointe, West Virginia’s newest model community, things changed. The result was construction and grand opening of a state-of-the-art child care facility which tripled Cubby’s original square footage and doubled the child care capacity.
“It was a vision from the Lord that got us here and a dream come true to be located at Charles Pointe,” said Joe Spatafore, Cubby’s owner along with his wife Joyce. “We are very happy we decided to locate here, but couldn’t have done it without the help and cooperation from Huntington Bank, Genesis Partnership and the U.S. Small Business Administration.”
The Spatafore’s utilized the SBA’s 504 Certified Development Company loan program through the Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED) to finance the project. The 504 loan, which provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to purchase or construct major fixed assets, was combined with a loan secured by a senior lien from Huntington Bank, to construct the 18,000 square foot facility.
Cubby’s was located within the Bridgeport city limits since 1996 at a 6,000 square foot facility just off Main Street and combined with the constant utilization of the Benedum Civic Center, space restrictions at the original Cubby’s location capacity was 150. The new Charles Pointe location with a capacity of over 300 has allowed Cubby’s to increase their employment by adding 15 new jobs.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be in our new facility,” said Jennifer Trippett, co-director of Cubby’s along with her sisters Janelle DeMarco and Jeanette Laverdierre. “It has been a smooth transition due to the help and support of the families of our enrolled children as well as the dedication from every one of our employees.”
The new facility not only allowed for the increased capacity, but increased classrooms for Pre-K and under from 6 to 14; added four additional rooms for school-age children and a new gymnasium. “Thanks to the ongoing commitment from the community, Huntington Bank, RED and the SBA, we are able to provide a safe, nurturing new environment for the children in the Harrison County area,” added Trippett.
The SBA’s West Virginia Director Judy McCauley said, “The 504 Loan Program is SBA’s economic development tool that supports American small business growth and helps communities through business expansion and job creation. It is an excellent financing source for small businesses like Cubby’s Child Care Center because the program usually requires only a 10 percent equity contribution from the small business towards the total project cost. The lower down payment allows the business to conserve valuable working capital for other needs.”
The grand opening of the facility and ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held on Friday, July 20, 2007 at their new location at 801 Genesis Boulevard in Charles Pointe. Representatives from the SBA, Huntington Bank, Genesis Partnership, the City of Bridgeport, Office of Governor Joe Manchin and the State of West Virginia joined the Spatafores for the ceremony.
Since its founding more than a half-century ago, the U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered about 24 million loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. In the Small Business Act of July 30, 1953, Congress created the U.S. Small Business Administration, whose function is to “aid, counsel, assist, and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns.” The SBA also helps people recover from disasters and rebuild their lives by providing affordable, timely and accessible financial assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses. The charter also stipulated that the SBA will work to ensure small businesses receive a “fair proportion” of government contracts.
For more information about the SBA, visit their web site at www.sba.gov or contact the West Virginia District Office at (304) 623-5631.
There are companies that start up and soon fizzle. There are companies that start up, struggle, and slowly grow. Then, there are companies that start up and seem to take off like a rocket, up to the sky and beyond. Such seems to be the case for HMS Technologies, Inc. Founded on the basic principals of duty, honor, and commitment to excellence, Harry M. Siegel, president and CEO, has overseen the steady growth of HMS, Inc. since its inception in 2003. The company has received numerous recognitions since then, the most recent being an award for the 2007 Congressional Medal of Distinction for Small Business Excellence.
HMS, Inc. has progressed “from just me and nothing to $20 million in sales,” Siegel, the sole owner of the business reports. The company specializes in information technology (IT) and provides aids for health-care professionals and first responders. Mobile computing is the strength of the company, which has grown over 3000% with clientele mostly in the military and federal arena.
Headquartered in historic Martinsburg, W.Va., HMS, Inc. is a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) with 45 percent of the staff consisting of veterans. A highly decorated Service-Disabled Vietnam Veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Siegel not only utilizes the expertise and experience of other veterans, he provides mentoring to other veterans who are small business owners. When asked if he worries about creating competition, he states: “Instead of growing competitors, I’m growing teammates.”
Siegel has always been a hard worker. Born in Anderson, S.C., he began working at age six at his uncle’s gas station. At age nine, he had three paper routes; and as he grew older, he went on to work in his dad’s gun shop. He also attained the rank of Eagle Scout while a member of the Boy Scouts.
At HMS Technologies, Inc., ethics begins and ends with Harry M. Siegel. He has never taken an ethics class and has only read one book on the subject, which was bought on impulse at an airport bookstore. Siegel doesn’t just follow the Golden Rule in aligning his life activities; he goes way beyond it.
Siegel emulates his work ethic and training everyday at HMS. As a result, he has developed an exceedingly loyal and highly trained staff. Of his 20 employees, 95 percent have bachelor’s degrees and 60 percent have master’s degrees. To create a more cohesive group, each employee has company letter jackets and can earn pins for various levels of performance. When in the community, HMS employees can be easily recognized. Siegel’s leadership skills have been chronicled in a recent interview and profile in a book on leadership and in articles on ethics in American Executive Magazine.
For HMS Technologies and Siegel, the basic tenet is, “If I don’t think something is good for the country, I’ll walk away from the project.” For Siegel, the bottom line is, “I like to look in the mirror at the end of the day and say it’s been an honorable day.”
While HMS is primarily an IT firm, the company developed an innovative and important life-saving device which has been made available to the Federal Government. Called EZ-IO from Vida Care, the device is a small, battery-powered, intraosseous (IO) drive and needle set that provides fast, safe and controllable intraosseous access as an alternative to failed emergency IV access. The product, which provides injections directly to the marrow of the bone, has been credited with saving more than 400 American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Siegel was awarded the coveted Ronald Reagan Gold Medal in 2005 for Small Business Excellence; was named 2005 Business Man of the Year by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC); and was named Empire Who’s Who IT Systems Integration Professional of the Year for 2005. In 2006, he was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as Veteran Champion of the Year for West Virginia. HMS was also awarded the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year by the Secretary of Defense in 2007.
HMS sponsors an annual college scholarship for the child of an American service member who has served overseas, has paid for “messages home from the front” for service members stationed overseas, and has sponsored the Winter and Summer Olympic Games on the local NBC channel and local sports teams for youth leagues. The corporation always lends a hand on major fund raisers including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Shriners’ Children’s hospital drives, and local Chamber of Commerce charity events.
Siegel has mentored 13 other start-up organizations and always makes time for other entrepreneurs, with a willingness to meet and share his knowledge, encouragement and expertise. Siegel never says no to a qualified business request. A tireless professional who does his utmost to aide and assist others anytime day or night, he also serves on Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capitos’ board to select West Virginia youth for service academies.
A 32nd Degree Master Mason and involved in the American Legion, AMVETS, and Moose Lodge, Siegel also serves as Tech Advisory Member for Jefferson County; as a member of the Board of Directors for East Ridge Mental Health, FOCUS, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Thanks Plain and Simple, Berkeley County Development Authority and Ambulance Authority.
Siegel resides in Falling Waters, W.Va. with his wife, Wendy, and son Sloane. The Siegel’s own and operate Maralie Farm, a rescue horse farm and site of a handicapped and underprivileged children’s riding program designed to enhance their self-worth and ability to meld into society.
Judy Sheppard is a lot like the Energizer Bunny. As the president and CEO of Professional Services of America, Inc. (PSA, Inc.), Sheppard is constantly on the go seeking business opportunities for her human resources and human resources development business headquartered in Parkersburg, W.Va. She also is a strong advocate of women-owned and West Virginia businesses, two groups she relentlessly promotes throughout her travels around the country. “Each day I set a goal to do something that will make a positive impact on West Virginia’s business climate,” said Sheppard. “Making a difference in West Virginia and for West Virginia businesses is what keeps me going.”
Sheppard was recognized at the Women Impacting Public Policy’s national conference as the 2008 WIPP Member to Watch which demonstrates her commitment to the advancement of women-owned businesses.
PSA was incorporated in 1996 as a derivative from two companies established by Sheppard, Accumark Services, Inc. and Plastic Source Alternatives. As a result of being situated in West Virginia’s Polymer Alliance Zone, much of PSA’s work was reliant on the chemical industry. Sheppard felt even though PSA was doing well and growing, she needed to explore other avenues of growing the business. That is when she looked into the U.S. Small Business Administration’s certification programs. “I knew in order to take the company to the next level, government contracting was the way to go,” stated Sheppard. “Being a Native-American, woman-owned small business fit SBA’s certification program criteria and provided the channel into the world of government contracting.”
“Two words come to mind when I hear the name Judy Sheppard; passionate and believer,” said Melissa Loder, Business Development Specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office. “She believes in West Virginia; in her fellow small business entrepreneurs; in doing her absolute best; and she believes all this with great passion. A person like this is always a pleasure to work with.”
The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services – from spacecraft and advanced scientific research to paper clips and landscaping services. Federal agencies are required to establish contracting goals, with at least 23 percent of all government spending targeted to small business. The SBA’s certification programs are aimed at leveling the playing field to allow small businesses to obtain a fair share of these government contracts
“The fact that PSA, Inc. is an 8(a), Small Disadvantaged Business and HUBZone certified company has helped my business achieve higher margins,” added Sheppard. “It really makes a difference when competing against larger companies.”
The 8(a) program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program provides access to sole-source federal government contracts. “So far, we have been able to obtain approximately a dozen government contracts through certification programs,” said Sheppard. “Though each contract is a bit different, they all have been well worth the effort. I would encourage anyone remotely interested in government contracting to take the initiative and see if they qualify for any of the certification programs. I am certainly glad I did.”
Sheppard was recently recognized for her outstanding business achievements by West Virginia University at Parkersburg. She received an honorary degree at the institution’s graduation ceremony this past December.
If you are interested in learning more about government contracting, contact Melissa Loder at SBA’s West Virginia District Office at (304) 623-5631 extension 224 (email: email@example.com), or visit the SBA’s web site at www.sba.gov and select Contracting Opportunities under the Services heading.