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SBA’s Regional Administrator Honors Philadelphia’s “SBA Emerging Leaders” Graduates

Ceremony recognizes urban small business owners
Release Date: 
Friday, November 7, 2014
Release Number: 
Robert Goza (610) 382-3084 |

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho honored entrepreneurs completing the agency’s Emerging Leaders Program during a graduation ceremony Nov. 5 in Philadelphia at La Calaca Feliz – a restaurant owned by Brian Sirhal, a 2014 program graduate.

SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program identifies small inner-city businesses across the nation demonstrating high growth potential and provides them with a free, intensive six-month course of in-depth education in organization management, growth strategies and management, market development and strategic planning.

Olson-Urtecho stressed how important small businesses are to the nation’s economy and the ongoing economic recovery: “Half of all Americans own or work for small businesses like yours. Small businesses are vital to the U.S. economy, and here in Philadelphia we are counting on you to grow the economy and create jobs in your neighborhood.”

“You are leaders in your communities, as Emerging Leaders graduates. You have gained the skills and obtained the knowledge to push the businesses you’ve started to greater success. I believe you’ll go far,” Olson-Urtecho said. “As the brightest rising stars in your community, I know you will roll up your sleeves and do everything in your power to hire more workers, create more jobs and mentor the next generation of successful Philadelphia entrepreneurs and innovators.”

Since 2008, Emerging Leaders have been a catalyst for job creation and business growth in cities across America. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed participants reported an increase in revenue while 75 percent of those surveyed reported maintaining or creating new jobs in their communities. The program’s curriculum includes approximately 100 hours per participant and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and financial communities. Even during a tough economy, entrepreneur graduates have created hundreds of new jobs and secured millions of dollars in financing and government contracts.

“I hope that you will not consider this the end, but the beginning of a lasting partnership. Whatever you go on to do with your business, SBA will be there,” Olson-Urtecho said. “When you face new challenges or you are ready to seize new opportunities, we want to be able to keep working with you. When you need capital to expand your business, SBA can help you get a loan. If you want to go into government contracting, SBA can find you contracts to bid on. If you want to keep learning and growing, SBA can find you a counselor or a mentor.”

Philadelphia-area business participants honored at the Emerging Leaders graduation ceremony:

  • Antenna Star Satellites, Inc. – Rajesh Rajankutty, Vice President of Operations
  • Art of Wellness, LLC – Yan Huo, Owner
  • Chester County Linens – Inc., Eric Devine, Owner
  • CoyoteLight, Inc. – Brett Kolb, Owner
  • Environmental Construction Services, Inc. – Dominic Menta, Chief of Operations
  • Feliz Restaurants – Brian Sirhal, Owner
  • In Touch Medical Associates, Inc. – Bruce Williams, Owner
  • Logic Eye Care, Inc. – Dr. Tamara Hill-Bennett, CEO/Optometrist
  • Mitchum-Wilson Funeral Home, Inc. – Charlene Wilson-Doffoney, Owner
  • Morgan Construction Management – Angel Hackney, President
  • North American Roofers, Inc. – Walter Smith, President
  • OPS Security Group – Daniel Costa, President/CEO
  • Roman Sentry Security Systems, Inc. – Joseph Nolfi, Vice President
  • Salus Health Inc. – Sam Chaundry, President
  • Tiagha & Associates – Kahiga Tiagha, Member