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Minority-owned HUBZone Business Owner Named Minnesota Minority Small Business Person of the Year

Elise Hernandez McGuire, owner of Ideal System Solutions, Inc., Pine River, has been named Minnesota Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The award recognizes Hernandez for excellence in her field, demonstrated leadership, and community involvement.

Ideal System Solutions, Inc. is a woman-owned, Hispanic-owned company providing information technology solutions and services to the government, system integrators and commercial customers. Ideal is headquartered in Pine River with its main sales office and technical facility located in Maple Grove. Ideal also has offices located in New Mexico, California, South Carolina, and Virginia and a services organization that expands nationwide. Major customers include the Department of Energy, General Dynamics, and the Department of Defense including the Minnesota Air National Guard.

Ideal is a value-added reseller for leading-edge technology manufacturers including SUN, HP, IBM and CISCO, just to name a few. In addition to offering the full spectrum of IT solutions, Ideal provides financing options, product leasing and rental, trade and consignment to enable flexibility in purchasing. Ideal’s IT staffing organization offers versatile trained and certified technicians for long term and short term contract or projects. The company's huge portfolio of products means more options to meet customer requirements, and the ability to respond to requests for proposals with competitively priced, cutting-edge solutions. "Ideal strives to be your single source for developing an integrated IT solution within your budget requirements"

Hernandez knows the value of customer service. She says, "Our goal is to exceed customer expectations, provide the best value, and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction."

Hernandez is a participant in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program and is also certified with SBA as a HUBZone small business.

Don’t Throw Your Clothing Tags Away—Plant Them: Small Business Offers Clothing Co.’s an Opportunity to Go Green

When it comes to the challenge of "greening" the manufactured products of the world, every little bit helps. And speaking of little bits, who would have given thought to the refuse created by those millions of branding- and price-tags affixed to new clothing?

A small business owner would. In fact when it comes to innovation, small businesses produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

Manhattan-based I & E Packaging is one of those small, innovative companies because it offers eco-friendly tags to the world’s clothing manufacturers. I & E’s hangtags with embedded plant seeds can simply be plopped down in soil and grown while other tags are made from various organic and recycled materials such as cork, organic cotton canvas, bamboo & wood. The company’s non-metal buttons are made from natural and sustainable corozza nuts, wood & horn, while its metal buttons, rivets, shanks, snaps and plates are made from recycled materials.

The company is growing those eco-friendly product lines in addition to its traditional lines of woven, paper, metal and synthetic brand-name tags which it currently sells to companies such as Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West and Fossil.

I & E was started in 2006 by Ian Kantor, a native of Rochester, NY. Relocating to New York City after college, he spent three years working for a manufacturer in the production end of the garment industry. He spent another 10 years with other firms supplying clothing manufacturers with the raw materials needed for production. After those 13 years he yielded to his true desire and talent— sales, and decided to strike out on his own.

Armed with just a home equity line-of-credit, Kantor opened a two-person office in mid-town Manhattan and a two-person office in Hong Kong, where the actual production and affixing of the tagging takes place before the clothing is shipped to the U.S.

This past March the company received a $15,000 SBA-guaranteed loan from Superior Financial Group under the SBA’s CommunityExpress Program. The provisions under the American Recovery and Investment Act, or ARRA, enabled the company to secure the loan without paying the usual guaranty fee. Kantor has applied those savings to promoting his eco-friendly products.

Sales have grown each year since I & E started and Kantor now has four employees in each of his New York and Hong Kong offices, and has opened a West Coast office in Los Angeles as well.

In addition to doing their "ecological duty," those clothing companies looking for just a little edge over their competitors in today’s recession might be wise to explore the added value of planet-friendly tagging.

I & E can be found on the Web at:


Small Business Owner Receives Help from SBDC, Receives Micro-loan for Start-up Capital

Jorge and Maria Euceda recently received a loan through the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Micro-Enterprise Loan Program to start “Tortilleria Si Señor,” a local shop that makes fresh, authentic corn flour tortillas, chips, and tostadas from scratch. The Eucedas will sell other Mexican convenience goods and services as well.

Jorge Euceda and his family have lived in the Worthington area for over 13 years, and all will be helping in the business. Tortilleria Si Señor is located in downtown Worthington at 924 Fifth Avenue, and it is expected to open by the second week in August.

Funding from SWIF will be used to purchase equipment and fixtures for the business. Other funding partners in the project were First State Bank Southwest, of Worthington, and the Southwest Regional Development Commission, located in Slayton, Minn. The Eucedas also received business planning assistance from the Southwest Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Marshall for the start up of their business.

“We are excited to be able to help Jorge and Maria on this project,” said Berny Berger, SWIF Micro-Enterprise program officer. “Tortilla Si Señor will be the first store to offer fresh tortillas and chips in the Worthington Area. The Foundation is pleased to be able to assist with the creation of this business.”

SWIF’s Micro-Enterprise Loan Program offers loans of up to $35,000 for starting or expanding for-profit small businesses located within the 18 counties of southwest Minnesota that have a need for additional sources of funds. In addition, technical assistance is available from SWIF as needed for the length of the loan. The program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Otto Bremer Foundation.