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SBA Names Eastern Pa. 2019 Veteran-Owned Small Business of Year

Advisory Date: 
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Advisory Number: 
20190507-001
Contact: 
Robert Goza robert.goza@sba.gov | (610) 382-3084
Norristown, Pa. firm The Willow School presented award May 9

EASTERN Pa.– The U.S. Small Business Administration officially recognizes its Eastern Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year, with The Willow School, with Kym Ramsey, Founder and Owner, May 9 at 5:30 p.m. during a Norristown Chamber of Commerce event. Media are invited to attend.

WHO:  Michelle Christian, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration Mid-Atlantic Region

John Fleming, Acting Director, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District

Bryan Smith, Alumni Manager, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, CCP

Joan Chrestay, Executive Director, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, CCP

Crandall Jones, Municipal Administrator, Norristown, Pa.

Sean Kilkenny, Sheriff, Montgomery County

Kym Ramsey, Founder and Owner, The Willow School

Invited: Local, state and federal officials      

WHAT:  The Willow School introduced as 2019 Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year; media tour of business with interview and photo opportunities

WHEN:  May 9 at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Chamber of Commerce Event at Five Saints Distillery, 129 E. Main St, Norristown, PA

“It’s a privilege to recognize the achievements of leading veteran-owned Pennsylvania small businesses,” said John Fleming, Acting U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “Kym and veteran small businesses owners like her, drive our nation’s economy to be the most powerful in the world. I’m proud of the role SBA and our resource and lending partners play in helping these American entrepreneurs succeed.” Ramsey has leveraged SBA’s lending programs, which makes it easier for small businesses to access capital by working with lenders to provide loans to small businesses, including the 7(a) program in which SBA guarantees a portion of a loan made and administered by commercial lending institutions. SBA’s guarantee reduces risk for lenders, enabling a small business to get a loan it might not be able to through standard lending.

“It’s a great honor to nominate Kym. Working with her in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program it was clear that she brings an incredible combination of education, life experience and leadership to her business,” said Bryan Smith, Alumni Manager, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. “Repeatedly, Kym has surmounted the challenges faced by a start-up to grow her business to greater levels of success, guided by her military service and business acumen. I could not be more impressed with her character, abilities and achievements.”

“I’m honored to be recognized as the Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year,” said Kym Ramsey, Founder and Owner, The Willow School. “I’ve appreciated the assistance of SBA’s programs and services as well as the training opportunity provided by Bryan and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. As a veteran, service is very important to me. The Willow School strives to serve our children and their families with a level of dedication to children’s education with the same commitment that military service is known for engendering.”

The Willow School’s mission is to provide children with a quality preschool curriculum within a nurturing atmosphere to develop critical thinking, self-esteem, confidence and the love of learning that will translate to later academic and personal success - currently in the heart of Norristown, Pa. Ric and Kym, LLC was organized by Ric Ramsey and Kym Shegog-Ramsey in 2001. Based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., the firm is dedicated to children’s education as early as infancy. The school has increased in enrollment and opened additional classrooms to accommodate the growth since its founding in 2012 and has experienced an increase in request for tours/enrollment by 50% that translates into at least one new enrollment a week. The school’s financial health continues to improve and obtaining a Keystone STAR 4 rating (an indication of quality early learning experiences for favorable student outcomes) has allowed the school to receive government subsidies (tuition reimbursements) that equal the market rate for private paying parents. Consequently, the school can afford higher salaries for its teachers, which has improved the quality and number of employees from 20 to 27. The company's revenues have also increased by almost 10%.

Smith noted that over the past years, Ramsey has become increasingly involved in the Norristown community. Without compensation for any position and/or appointment, she has tirelessly volunteered hours serving the community with civic engagement initiatives and has been an integral participant in the following:  Norristown Chamber of Commerce President, Citizen Leadership Academy, Citizen’s Police Academy., Keep Norristown Beautiful Advisory Board Appointed Member, and the Small Cities Resilience Competition. “What impresses me most is her willingness to put her words into action. She serves as a formidable catalyst to engage residents and businesses to enthusiastically embrace the effort to make Norristown a better place to live and work. Through her selfless works, she is helping promote a bright and prosperous future for our community,” Smith said.

Ramsey, originally from Aurora, Colorado, graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service with a B.S. degree in International Economics and Portuguese, commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1988 and attended Military Intelligence School and Leadership Training. She completed Airborne Training and was assigned to 2nd Infantry Division in Korea where she commanded over 1,700 American and Korean soldiers. Next, she trained soldiers in electronic warfare and ran administrative operations for a joint military force at Goodfellow Airforce Base during Operation Desert Storm., Ramsey received her MBA in 1995 and began a second career in HR working for Trammel Crow, Allied Signal, Ingersoll Dresser Pumps, and worked at the VA Medical Center and as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Temple, and Wharton. In 2004, Ramsey owned and operated her own Goddard School franchise. In 2008 Ramsey sold the schools and in 2012 constructed her own independent school in an underserved market, “The Willow School” in Norristown, Pa. which has received the highest award level in Pennsylvania: STAR 4 for quality in early childhood education. Ramsey is founder/President of Norristown Chamber of Commerce; a board member on Montgomery County nonprofits; completed the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program; and recipient of the 2018 Philadelphia Women's Entrepreneurship Day Veterans Award.

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. 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 and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.