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SBA Names Eastern Pa. 2019 Small Business Champion of the Year

Women’s Opportunities Resource Center’s Lynne Cutler Recognized for Outstanding Contribution and Assistance to Small Businesses
Release Date: 
Monday, May 6, 2019
Release Number: 
20190506-001
Contact: 
Robert Goza robert.goza@sba.gov | (610) 382-3084

PHILADELPHIA– The U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania District has named Lynne Cutler, President of the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC), as SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Small Business Champion of the Year. Cutler will receive the award, presented to individuals or organizations for outstanding efforts to assist small businesses, at the “Celebrating 25 Years of the Women's Opportunities Resource Center” event May 8 at 5:30 p.m.  Media are invited to attend the event.

“Lynne’s work in support of small businesses has made a made profound difference for entrepreneurs, their families, our community and the economy. It’s an exceptional honor to work with her and recognize her for the many great things that she has accomplished. Over the years, I’ve met with entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders who sing Lynne’s praises for her work,” said John Fleming, Acting U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “While this well-deserved award is specifically for Lynne, it also serves as a reflection of the team she has lead and all of the many wonderful successes WORC has had, particularly for woman-owned small businesses.”

Cutler is Founder and President of WORC, a nationally recognized Philadelphia-based non-profit organization helping women and their families become socially and economically self-sufficient.  WORC, one of the first microenterprise programs in the nation, provides comprehensive business services including training in self-employment, an incentive savings program, and financing.  Over the years, Cutler and the organizations she founded have received numerous awards including a 2019 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Award —Small Business Development; the 2001 “Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise Development” for excellence in poverty alleviation; and the 2005 “AEO Innovation in Technology Award” for its online financial literacy program “Building Blocks to Financial Success.”

Cutler is active in effecting national and state policies. She created one of the largest statewide Individual Development Account programs in the nation.  She was chair of Pennsylvania’s Microenterprise Coalition and has served on many boards.  She was appointed to Governor’s Ridge’s Self-Employment Opportunities Team and Co-Chaired the Building Assets Committee of Governor Rendell’s Task Force for Working Families.  Currently, she is a member of the Forum for Executive Women and Social Venture Circle. Cutler received her Master’s Degree from Michigan State University and a B.S. from Drexel University. Cutler was selected and completed the Achieving Excellence in Community Development through Harvard University in 2006.

The mission of WORC is to promote social and economic self-sufficiency primarily for economically disadvantaged women and their families. WORC provides training, individual business assistance, incentive savings program, job placement, and access to business and financial resources. WORC empowers its constituents through various self-help strategies including savings, a self-employment network, and access to its local and national affiliations. Additionally, WORC encourages community awareness and responsiveness concerning issues impacting economic equity and independence.

Cutler has accomplished many successes during her years of service and advocacy for WORC’s many small business clients. Recent examples include:

  • Beautiful Beginnings Childcare Center: Lalita Paris, a certified childcare instructor, first came to WORC more than 14 years ago to pursue her dream of operating her own childcare center. She received entrepreneurial training to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to manage her business. She opened her doors in 2004 and, with the help of nine loans ranging from $2,500 to WORC over the years, she has expanded to open a second site and she now employs 15 staff serving over 100 children. “Without the guidance and access to capital I received at WORC, Beautiful Beginnings wouldn’t be an essential part of its neighborhood,” says Lalita.
  • Dooley’s Landscaping & Tree Care Services, LLC offers general landscaping services for commercial, residential and government properties in Philadelphia. Company President Mae Dooley started the business in 2012, in part, to provide employment for herself and her formerly incarcerated son. She needed financing to buy landscaping equipment, but had no credit history. WORC helped her get approved for a $4,000 loan for a lawnmower. Within months, she secured a contract with the PA Horticulture Society, hired her son and 2 employees. A year later, she qualified for another $15,000 loan, won a City contract for green rain barrel and soil reclamation landscaping at schools, and hired 2 more workers. The business now has 50 residential customers in the Northwest section of the City and employs 9 workers, including 4 family members. 

Cutler and her team are always looking for more ways to do even more for the small business community. “As Pennsylvania’s oldest microenterprise and with a strong emphasis on poverty alleviation, we were extremely proud to be designated a Small Business Administration Community Advantage Loan participant this year,” said Cutler. “Small and micro businesses play a major role in the sustainability of our economy and we realize support from the SBA will continue to chart the growth for the clients we serve in the greater Philadelphia region. I’m honored to be recognized by SBA for the work WORC has been able to accomplish since its founding."

These expanded initiatives will allow WORC to scale up lending to diverse owned small businesses through both step lending to existing borrowers and an outreach campaign into targeted untapped communities. WORC's strategy represents an expansion of the organization’s existing, proven track record in lending to businesses in Greater Philadelphia.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Small Business Champion Award is presented in recognition of assistance given small businesses: to obtain financing and encourage investment capital; significant contributions through advocacy efforts to advance small business interests; efforts to increase business and financial opportunities; advisory activities to improve awareness of small business opportunities and efforts to strengthen the role of small business owners particularly minority, veteran and/or women-owned  small businesses; and improving the environment for the creation and expansion of small businesses, particularly those that are minority-, veteran- and/or women-owned and operated. 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. Learn more about National Small Business Week at https://www.sba.gov/national-small-business-week.

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

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. 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 or 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.