WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced this Year’s Small Business Person of the Year, Jill Rae Scarbro of Bright Futures Learning Services in West Virginia, during the 2022 National Small Business Week virtual summit. This year’s National Small Business Week (NSBW), themed “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” acknowledged small businesses from across the country for their resilience, ingenuity, and creativity. It also recognized SBA partners for their involvement in entrepreneurial development, disaster recovery, government contracting, financial development, and overall support for small businesses and entrepreneurship. Small businesses, like Bright Futures, have played an integral role in powering our nation’s historically strong economic comeback while navigating challenges from a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and various variant waves.
“Our National Small Business Week honorees reflect the strength of our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit—a spirit of community, grit, and ingenuity. This week we shine a spotlight on the impact they make on our neighborhoods, Main Streets, innovation hubs and manufacturing centers. And I’m honored to recognize West Virginia’s Jill Rae Scarbro as the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “Jill has dedicated herself to providing vital therapy services to improve lives and bring joy to children with special needs. Her small business is a valuable reminder of how much we rely on these brave entrepreneurs to give us the products and services we depend on every day. In the face of adversity during the pandemic, Jill worked with the SBA to get critical relief, pivot her business, retain her workers and find new ways to provide needed services to her customers. My great appreciation and congratulations to Jill and all our 2022 NSBW honorees for their true innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurial achievements which helped our economy and communities recover.”
As part of the 2022 National Small Business Week virtual events, Administrator Guzman awarded state and territorial winners and industry leaders for excellence in entrepreneurship, exporting, federal contracting, lending, and disaster recovery.
Jill Rae Scarbro, CEO, Bright Futures Learning Services, Winfield, West VA
Bright Futures Learning Services began in 2007, helping one child in Scarbro’s grandmother’s kitchen. Scarbro saw a need for ABA services in West Virginia and expanded her practice to help more children throughout the state.
In 2016, with the help of an SBA 504 loan, BFLS moved to their 7,300 square-foot home in Winfield, WV. In 2021, BFLS opened a second location in Hurricane, WV, and has 36 employees educating and advocating for children with special needs.
Scarbro has benefited from multiple SBA programs and services, including SCORE, SBDC Counseling, the 504 Loan, Emerging Leaders Program, SBA District Office training and counseling, COVID-19 EIDL, PPP, and Debt Relief funding.
BFLS was able to retain all employees and pay creditors throughout the pandemic due to the SBA’s assistance.
The national runner-up for the Small Business Person of the Year is Gregory Acerra of Fireking Baking Company.
Gregory Acerra, Fireking Baking Company, Braintree, MA
Greg Acerra, a restaurateur, started Fireking Baking Company in 1995 to provide freshly-baked European-style bread to his restaurants, clubs, and catering company.
Fireking Baking Company is an innovator in the baking industry, delivering fresh and frozen baked goods through a national distribution network. Although Fireking rustic loaves are still formed by hand and baked in hearth ovens by artisan bakers, most of the bread is produced using a stress-free semi-automated artisan process.
Acerra loves growing his business and seeing his people share in the success of the company. He continues to reinvest in new state-of-the-art equipment with the cash flow flexibility achieved through SBA 504 financing. As a result, Fireking Baking Company’s return on investment is efficiencies in production and effectiveness in its 137 full-time and 152 temporary employees.
The Fireking line has grown to include over 300 types of bread baked for food service, retail, and private labeling.
Cosponsorship Authorization# 22-1-C. The 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.
About National Small Business Week
For nearly 60 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.