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16 small business owners graduate from SBA’s Emerging Leaders training program

Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders graduates, SBA staff, and other partners celebrate outside Geja's Cafe in Chicago.

CHICAGO – Sixteen small business owners from the Chicagoland area graduated from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Emerging Leaders program, a “mini-MBA” training initiative for local businesses on the brink of growth.  

The event was held Oct. 10 at Geja’s Café, a fondue restaurant in Lincoln Park whose owner, Jeffrey Lawler, completed the Emerging Leaders program this year.

This is the 10th year the SBA Illinois District Office has hosted the seven-month executive education series. The program includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time, connects small business owners with a network of industry experts and peers, and supports the creation of a three-year strategic growth action plan.

Since the SBA started offering the Emerging Leaders program in various locations across the country, graduates have created more than 2,400 new full-time jobs, accessed more than $73 million in new financing, and secured federal, state, local and tribal contracts worth more than $1 billion.  

The 2017 graduates from the Chicago class represent diverse industries including construction, food distribution, model and artist management, information technology, and more. 

The Emerging Leaders class is made possible with support and sponsorship from SCORE, the nonprofit association of thousands of volunteer business counselors, and Wintrust Bank. Tom Huffman, senior vice president for Wintrust’s SBA Lending, spoke to graduates at the event.

“We often hear that small business owners feel isolated and too caught up in day-to-day operations to plan for the future, and the Emerging Leaders program addresses both of those issues,” SBA Illinois District Director Robert “Bo” Steiner said. “These graduates are leaving the program ready to implement a customized three-year growth plan, and they have a supportive network of peers to hold them accountable and offer ongoing advice. We’re excited to see what the future brings.”

The following are the 2017 SBA Emerging Leaders graduates in Chicago:

• Poolsingh Bhookya, Cloudquest Technologies LLC

• Stephanie Boccarossa, Air Spares Unlimited, Inc.

• Rachel Ciullo, Composite Cutter Technology

• Edith De La Cruz, Antigua Construction

• Susan Ecker, Abdale Corporation

• Derek Facklis, Resolution Productions Group

• Richard Felicelda, Star Lab

• Anthony Giangrossi, Dynamic Colors, Inc.

• Bader Hafeez, DAMA Consultants, Inc

• Christie Jordan, Source Healing

• Jeffrey Lawler, Geja's Café

• Mark Litton, Howard Medical Company

• Thomas Peters, Symbol Training Institute

• Renee Ramon-Doughman, AccessAbilities, Inc.

• David Sanchez, 10 MGMT

• Erin True,  Urban Wood Goods 



About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level 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 SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. 

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