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Saluting the Unsung Heroes of America: Small Businesses

By SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho
Release Date: 
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Release Number: 
16-04-21
Contact: 
Chris Hatch christopher.hatch@sba.gov

Every year since 1963, the President has officially set aside a week to honor all that is right with entrepreneurship in the United States.  These National Small Business Weeks are a perfect opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the backbone of the strongest, most resilient economy in the world.

2016’s National Small Business Week is May 1 – 7, and the theme is “Dream Big, Start Small.”  Across the country, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is again recognizing the role small businesses play in building our communities.  Small businesses today create two out of every three new private-sector jobs, and employ half of the private workforce. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to help entrepreneurs as they continue to drive our nation’s economy forward.

For more than 200 years, American innovation has sparked ideas that are changing the course of history and improving lives for millions.  At SBA we are determined to ensure these enterprises continue to have the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed.  Every day, SBA is working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.

Small businesses like Eastern Pennsylvania’s Minority-Owned Business of the Year, Jennifer Gill, President and Managing Member, Exact Match Masonry Staining, LLC are the heroes of America’s economy.  Exact Match is a niche masonry and expert custom coatings application business. When clients struggle to match building additions, repaired areas, correct graffiti damage or face other color problems, the firm reverse-engineers custom colors for masonry and mortar to create an exact match. Jennifer, with her husband and vice-president Matthew, worked with a team of chemists to perfect, test and expand their product line. The company receives word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients from New England to Southern California.

The daughter of a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran and his Asian wife, Jennifer was born near Chicago and grew up in Central Pennsylvania. Jennifer's background and the history of her Asian grandparents, hardworking store owners who fled Communist China in 1949, give her a unique appreciation for free enterprise and hard work. The deep construction recession was a huge challenge to the company just as they were launching their new business in 2007, so they turned to SBA resource partners for guidance and assistance. Exact Match Masonry received business counseling with SCORE from 2007 to 2009 and SBDC consulting assistance encompassing business planning, financial statement analysis and projections, marketing research, woman's business certification and export assistance from 2009 to the present.

National Small Business Week is not just honoring the amazing accomplishments of a select few: it is recognizing the place all entrepreneurs have in the success of our nation and the communities from which they emerge.  Together, during May 1 - 7, we seize the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

SBA: Saluting the Unsung Heroes of America – Small Businesses

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Natalia Olson-Urtecho is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.  Appointed in 2012 by President Obama, she is responsible for delivery and management of small business programs, financial assistance, and business development initiatives throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

She serves a population of nearly 30 million in seven district offices throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  Olson-Urtecho oversees more than 180 SBA offices, SCORE chapters, Business Development Centers, and other resources while managing a field staff of more than 100 loan, business, community outreach and support personnel.  She works with local lenders and successful firms across the region, overseeing more than $34.2 billion in federal government contracts for goods and services purchased from local entrepreneurs. 

Olson-Urtecho has professional and personal experience in international collaboration, commercialization of clean technologies, environmental planning, sustainable building, zoning, land use, transportation, public engagement and infrastructure policies and development.  As founder, president and CEO of EG, a company dedicated to helping public and private entities become more profitable through environmentally friendly and socially responsible planning and strategies, she designed several management and development programs to move entrepreneurial clean technology ventures from vision to startup and profitable businesses.  Before founding EG, Olson-Urtecho was a transportation and land use planner at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and was director of global initiatives at H2L2, an architectural and planning firm with projects in 42 countries.

Olson-Urtecho has more than 18 years of experience working with international, regional and local entities in the mid-Atlantic region and abroad in Latin America, Central Europe and Asia.  While at the U.S. Department of State, Olson-Urtecho worked in Budapest, Hungary, on NATO accession, economic and political policies, environmental issues, science and technology property rights, infrastructure development and served as chief of protocol.

She was previously appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the U.S. Innovation Advisory Board and by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and Zoning Code Commission.

Olson-Urtecho was recognized as a “Latina Powerhouse” by the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference, was named one of Delaware Valley's Most Influential Latinos in 2014, and received the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2010 Minority Business Leader Award.  In 2009 she received the Women of Distinction Award for her work toward building a green economy.   She has lived in seven countries and speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese. She holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Design and a bachelor’s in political science from Northeastern University; and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.

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