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Early Development Services, Inc. Selected as the Central California 2011 Small Business Person of the Year

Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Release Number: 
Advisory Date: 
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Advisory Number: 
Melende Ward (559) 487-5791 ext 2709


National Small Business Week May 16-20, 2011


SEASIDE, CA - The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Fresno District Office announced today that Shannan Watkins, President of Early Development Services, Inc. has been selected as the 2011 Central California Small Business Person of the Year. 

The award presentation for Early Development Services, Inc. will be held on May 18, 2011, 4:00 pm during a reception at the Seaside City Hall Chamber in the Round located at 440 Harcourt Avenue, Seaside. For information regarding the award presentation, please contact Melende Ward at (559) 487-5791.

Annually, SBA honors Central California entrepreneurs for their contributions to the economy.  Small businesses make up 99.2 percent of California’s employers and have proven, year after year, to be the greatest sources of innovation, jobs and growth for the State’s economy.

The Small Business Person of the Year award recognizes a business owner who exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit and honors his or her individual contributions to the community. Early Development Services was selected after a competition held among businesses located within the 15 Central California counties served by the Fresno SBA.  The National Development Council’s “Grow America Fund”. nominated Early Development Services, for the award.  The “Grow America Fund” is implemented locally as the “Grow Seaside Program.”

"The Small Business Administration is very proud of the tremendous growth and success that Early Development Services has achieved. This company serves as a role model for other small business entrepreneurs,” said Carlos G. Mendoza, District Director for the Fresno SBA Office.

Upon notification that she was selected for the award Watkins said, "Early Development Services is thankful to be recognized for our contribution to the Seaside community as a small business. We appreciate the support that the City of Seaside has given us over the last decade in providing a service that is so vital to the workforce. Seaside’s choice to participate in the Grow America Fund is testament to its commitment to economic growth of its residents. The success of EDS is grounded in our dedicated staff that care for the children each day and I am humbled by their commitment to our families. This award validates the role that child care plays in the economy as a whole and we are honored to be selected."

Early Development Services was founded in 1998 with a vision to provide quality child care services to the public.  Watkins transformed a condemned house into her first child care center with 44 children ranging from two to five years old.  Since, 1998, Watkins has expanded to provide early educational services for nearly 300 children from 6 weeks to 5th grade at eight different locations with 71 employees.  EDS operates nationally accredited programs to prepare children for their entrance into the educational system.   

With the assistance of a SBA 7a guaranteed loan for working capital provided with the National Development Council’s Grow America Fund, Watkins was able to meet expenses and provide facility upgrades.  Recently the business has expanded to a new administrative office which allows for space for parent workshops and for the administration and operational side of the business to be housed.

“Small businesses are struggling to access capital and often need alternate financing solutions,” said Olivia Rebanal, NDC regional director of the Grow America Fund. “Providing small businesses, such as Seaside’s Early Development Services, with the opportunity to sustain themselves and grow stronger, more robust communities. That’s exactly what the Grow America Fund aims to accomplish.”  The Grow America Fund, an affiliate of the National Development Council, is a non-bank lender making SBA 7(a) loans to small businesses.

In 2001 EDS received a contract from the California Department of Education, Child Development Division to provide quality child care to income qualified families.  In order to meet the increased demand EDS located an additional facility in Seaside and opened the first and only specialized infant/toddler development facility on the Monterey Peninsula in 2002.  Most recently EDS has been contracted to manage the child development center at California State University Monterey Bay. 

Small Business Person of the Year nominations are judged on seven basic criteria: staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and/or unit volume, current and past financial reports, innovativeness of product or service, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects.

For additional information:

Shannan Watkins, President                                                      Olivia Rebanal, Regional Director

Early Development Services, Inc.                                              Grow America Fund, Inc.

1069 Broadway, Suite 200                                                       708 Third Avenue, Suite 710

Seaside, CA  93955                                                                 New York, NY 10017

(831) 393-2246                                                                       (503) 998-2110  Local Number