Coronavirus (COVID-19): Relief options and Additional Resources

Minnesota’s 2017 Small Business Week Winners Announced

Twelve Celebrated for Business Success and Community Involvement
Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty,, 612-370-2316

MINNEAPOLIS – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Minnesota District Office announced this year’s state winners that will be recognized during National Small Business Week. Held annually to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and small business supporters across the nation, Small Business Week will be celebrated from April 30 to May 6, 2017.

“The Small Business Administration works tirelessly to help small businesses start, grow and succeed,” said Nancy J. Libersky, district director, SBA’s Minnesota District Office. “It’s wonderful to take time out to celebrate the accomplishments of Minnesota’s entrepreneurs who are doing the heavy lifting to grow our economy and create jobs.  That they do all that and still make time to give back to the community inspires us every day.” 

The winners below were chosen for their success in starting or helping small business in Minnesota and for their efforts to give back to the community. Each business also received SBA assistance, directly or from SBA’s resource partners, in the form of guaranteed loans, business training and consultation, and more.


Small Business Person of the Year

Shirley Joann Wikner, CEO, Aviation Charter and Executive Aviation, Eden Prairie


District Director Award Recipient

Glenn Ford, owner, SBA’s Emerging Leaders Minnesota Instructor, Minneapolis


Encore Entrepreneur of the Year

Massoud Kazemzadeh, Ph.D, co-founder and COO, and Ann Jones Kazemzadeh, President Kay’s Processing LLC, Clara City


Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

Jeremiah Watson, CEO, Watson Recycling, LLC, Oronoco


Minority Owned Small Business of the Year

Milissa Diaz, CEO, El Burrito Mercado, St. Paul



SBDC Excellence & Innovation Center of the Year

North Central Region Small Business Development Center, Central Lakes College, Brainerd


Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year

Scott Sinclair, managing principal, National Facility Solutions, LLC, Hastings


Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year

Dr. Denise Elizabeth Williams, assistant professor, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul


Women Owned Small Business of the Year

Anna Tsantir, owner/founder, Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service, Minneapolis


Women’s Business Center of Excellence of the Year

WomenVenture, Minneapolis


Women Small Business Champion of the Year

Buffie Blesi, We Spark Growth, LLC, Minneapolis


Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Dalton Outlaw, Founder and CEO, Element Gym, St. Paul


The SBA, along with the SCORE Association and the Small Business Development Center, will honor the winners listed above at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 4, 2017, at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until April 30 at

For more information on Small Business Week, please visit


The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The Minnesota District Office provides SBA programs and services to the state of Minnesota. Working with our resource partners across the state, we help businesses start, grow and achieve success. For more information on our programs and services, visit