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Success Stories

Lorena Cantarovici, owner of Maria Empanada named Colorado’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year winner

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lorena Cantarovici was raised most of her life by her single mother Maria. Impacted by Argentina’s history of volatile economies, Lorena and her mother were constantly on the verge of homelessness. While working full-time to support herself and her mother, Lorena also successfully obtained her degree in accounting.

Her first career was working for Argentina’s largest private bank, and soon she became the youngest branch manager nationwide. She later became a bank auditor in Mexico and obtained her Master’s degree in Marketing. In order to improve her English, she came to Denver, Colorado originally scheduled for three months, and ended up never wanting to leave.

Settling into her new city of Denver, she made empanadas for a party and was approached by a caterer for a big order. That original order turned into several more, and Lorena quickly outgrew her home kitchen. She, friends and family converted her garage into a simple working... Read More

Wall of Fame inductee Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey

Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey is a women-owned, family operated, 4th and 5th generation business that specializes in 100% American raw & unfiltered honey.  Based in Greeley, CO, Ronna Rice, CEO, along with her husband Jim, three children, son-in-law Mike Lordemann, and close family friend, Tony Landretti, continue to build upon the legacy established in 1924, by founder L.R. Rice.  By expanding its sales nationally, and internationally, the firm is able to invest back into the local community by hiring more employees to support the growing business. In 2014, Rice’s used an SBA 504 loan, made through the Colorado Lending Source, to purchase a 33,000 square foot facility, equipment for packaging, and an additional assembly line.

Ayuda Companies leverages SBA programs for business success

When Maria Velez began Ayuda Companies in 2002 she knew the focus of the business needed to center around her core values of commitment, courage, creativity, consistency, challenges, compassion, and community. In the beginning the business had one employee and $33,000 in revenue. Today, Ayuda Companies has grown to 40 employees and $16 million in revenues. 

Maria Velez learned very early in life about the importance of hard work and treating people fairly. She learned these principles from her grandfather who taught himself English and worked his way up to becoming the head chef at Jack Dempsey’s Broadway Restaurant in New York City. Maria Velez comes from an Ecuadorian family of entrepreneurs including her dad who started an IT company, and her aunt who ran a successful snack stand in Cuenca, Ecuador.  She was taught that nothing would be handed to you in life, and no task is worth doing unless you are willing to go above and beyond and do it right.

Ayuda Companies... Read More

Teresa Porter named Colorado Small Business Person of the Year for 2015

Teresa Porter, CEO of ISYS Technologies has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2015 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year. ISYS Technologies is a woman-owned small business that provides engineering and information technology services to federal, state, and local government entities.  Headquartered in Littleton, CO, the firm serves key national customers including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and many other federal civilian agencies.

Porter joined ISYS Technologies in May 2002 and under her leadership re-organized the business as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) that targeted its services to federal, state and local government customers worldwide. She has a 30-year sales and management background in the technology industry, which includes diverse experience managing both small and large service organizations.  Beginning her career in accounting/finance with the Burroughs Corporation in 1980, she quickly... Read More