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SBA Names Eastern Pa. 2016 Family-Owned Small Business of Year

Advisory Number: 
Robert Goza (610) 382-3084 |
Buttonwood Campground of Mifflintown, Pa. introduced May 6th

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA– U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania Director Antonio (Tony) Leta officially introduces Eastern Pennsylvania’s Family-Owned Business of the Year, Buttonwood Campground, with members of the McFarland family May 6 at 11 a.m.  Media are invited to attend.

WHO:  Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director

John Breneman, Office of Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman

Adam Harris, Pennsylvania State Representative

Carrie Lepore, Deputy Secretary, Marketing, Tourism, and Film, DCED

Michael Ryan and Linda Feltman, Business Analysts, Penn State Small Business Development Center Dennis,

Nancy, Ryan and Michael McFarland, Owners, Buttonwood Campground

WHAT:  Buttonwood Campground introduced as 2016 Eastern Pennsylvania Family-Owned Small Business of the Year; media tour of business with interview and photo opportunities

WHEN:   May 6, 2016 at 11 a.m.

WHERE: Buttonwood Campground, 1515 East River Road, Mifflintown, PA 17059

“It’s wonderful to have the privilege to recognize the achievements of leading Pennsylvania family-owned small businesses like the Buttonwood Campground,” said Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “Small businesses owners like the McFarlands are where the rubber meets the road, helping drive our nation’s economy.  SBA and our lending and resource partners, like Penn State Small Business Development Center, are proud to play a role in helping them start and succeed.”

Founded in 1993, Buttonwood Campground sits on 40 acres just off of State Routes 322 and 22 in the village of Mexico, Juniata County, Pa., located halfway between Harrisburg and State College. In the early 1990’s, Dennis and Nancy McFarland fell in love with the campground’s property overlooking the Juniata River. The scenic site boasted a large brick farmhouse, a 19th century barn, and amazing views. After purchasing the property, they put the barn and grounds to use by boarding horses. While continuing to work other full-time jobs, Dennis as an electrician and Nancy in retail, they created a vision to turn their property into a robust incoming-producing property. By 2000, they had installed 50 camp sites and related infrastructure. Their oldest son, Michael, used his passion for landscaping to create many beautiful focal points around the campground. The lower level of the barn was renovated and turned into a game room. In early 2001, they created a master plan for the development of the property. This was the catalyst that started ten years of tremendous growth, with consistent double-digit increases in revenues. Their youngest son, Ryan, returned to the campground in 2008 after serving in the Air Force. Together they have worked to turn Buttonwood into the award-winning destination it is today.     

"We are humbled to be recognized as SBA’s Family-Owned Small Business of the Year. To receive this award is not just a testimony to the hard work that led us to where we are today, but also the support we received from the Penn State SBDC, our lender, and the Small Business Administration," Dennis McFarland said.

The McFarlands first reached out to the Penn State SBDC for assistance in August of 2000. The SBDC helped them prepare a business plan and financial projections which helped them obtain financing for an expansion project. They again worked with the SBDC in 2002 to refinance existing debts to take advantage of lower interest rates. In 2009, they reached out to the SBDC for assistance once again, this time with their largest expansion project to date: updating the riverfront property they had purchased, as well as installing solar panels on the property. The McFarlands also obtained a 504 loan in 2012 and an SBA Express loan in 2014. 

It has been roughly 15 years since the SBDC began working with this family run business. Dennis McFarland proudly notes that in that time, Buttonwood has indeed grown into a true ‘family affair’ with his adult sons, Michael and Ryan (Air Force and Reserves) who returned to the area to help run the complex operation. The McFarlands credit much of their success to the Penn State SBDC.

“If it wasn’t for the SBDC, we wouldn’t be here today. They understood our vision and helped us get there,” Ryan McFarland said.

“It’s an honor to nominate Buttonwood Campground for SBA’s Family-Owned Small Business award,” said Penn State SBDC Business Consultant Michael Ryan. “With the thousands of guests visiting Buttonwood each year, the local impact on this Central Pennsylvania community would be in the millions. For a family business that started out in 1993 with 20 boarded horses and a handful of campsites, that exponential growth is remarkable by any measure.”

“The Penn State SBDC is glad to be a part of the local business community and we appreciate the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs and small businesses in Pennsylvania who are working to make the world a better place, improve quality of life, and develop the economy,” said Penn State SBDC Business Consultant Linda Feltman. “We’re proud to say that we have had a part in Buttonwood Campground becoming such a popular tourist destination, each year hosting thousands of guests, all of whom spend money in Central Pennsylvania.”

The SBDC is one of 18 Small Business Development Centers in Pennsylvania and is an accredited affiliate of the national network of Small Business Development Centers. The SBDC provides consulting services and educational programs to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their small business. SBDC consultants may work with entrepreneurs in confidential, one-to-one sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities, and much more.

SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director Antonio (Tony) Leta will present the 2016 Small Business Week Awards at the annual “SBA Day at the Ballpark” event June 8. The event is open to the media. The awards ceremony begins at 10 a.m. June 8 with a luncheon at the “XFINITY Live! Philadelphia” restaurant at 1100 Pattison Ave. (tickets available: followed by a 1:05 p.m. Phillies game at nearby Citizens Bank Park (tickets available: The event is cosponsored by Constant Contact and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Family-Owned Small Business of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. These events are local observances of the annual Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy.


To request interviews or photos, contact Robert Goza, SBA’s Public Information Officer in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office, at 610-382-3084 or

Cosponsorship Authorization #16-0303-111. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: Robert Goza, 610-382-3084.