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Success Stories

As she was just beginning the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program, a seven-month entrepreneurship education series designed to take small businesses poised for growth to the next level, in the spring of 2017, small business owner Sue Ecker faced unexpected challenges. Three of her employees quit at the same time, and though she brought on two replacements from an employment agency, neither worked out and they, too, departed quickly.

“Perception is as important in business as reality is,” said Ecker, who owns Abdale Corp. and Master Food Brokers, food distribution and logistics companies. “I was worried about losing business, keeping the cash flow positive, and getting the work done.”

In response, Ecker stayed focused and confident in her ability to run her business. She also remained committed to Emerging Leaders. Although participating was a big time commitment that even some participants cannot maintain during the course, Ecker knew the... Read More

Emerging Leaders graduates celebrate after completing the class in October.

Edith De La Cruz has never shied away from a challenge – whether in her previous career as a teacher to children with special needs and students learning English, or in entering a male-dominated field when she started her Chicago construction business, Antigua Construction.

“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty – as a small business, that’s what we have to do. We have to wear all the hats at one time or another,” she said. “Believe it or not, I’ve done demo, installation of carpeting … If you have a deadline, you have to get on the floor and do it yourself.”

But she’s also learned how to ask for help when she needs it, frequently taking advantage of free training and services from the U.S. Small Business Administration and its resource partners to help her small business grow and succeed. De La Cruz has used Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) and the SBA’s surety bonding guarantee program to access government contracts in the early years of her company... Read More

Dynamic Colors

After some 13 years with a paintbrush in his hand, Anthony Giangrossi decided to take a step back. Dynamic Colors, the Evanston-based house painting company he owns and operates, had the potential to grow into something much bigger, but Giangrossi knew he was stretching himself too thin when he was working so much in the field. In 2014, he hired more employees and decided to dedicate himself fully to the growth of his business. Since then, sales have more than doubled, and services and the company’s service area have expanded.

“The company is in the midst of growth and way ahead of my projections,” Giangrossi said. “This all led to my interest in Emerging Leaders to help guide me during this growth period and in the future.”

Giangrossi graduated in October 2017 from the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program, a seven-month executive education series for businesses poised for growth. Alongside 15 other Chicagoland entrepreneurs, Giangrossi attended biweekly classes on topics... Read More

Hands-on training, customized to the client’s unique needs, has made the Illinois SBDC at the Women’s Business Development Center a trusted and frequently-visited resource for Chicago small business owners. In testimonials from businesses as diverse as a tech start-up, a music company, and a home organizer, the value is clear: the SBDC staff members are candid, encouraging coaches well prepared to share their technical skills with entrepreneurs. The SBA has recognized these accomplishments and presented the Illinois SBDC at the Women’s Business Development Center with its 2017 Illinois SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award.


SBDC Director Karen Goldner and Director of Entrepreneurial Programs Meg Herman together provide programming that not only has an economic impact, but also helps clients bring their products to the market and realize their dreams. They listen closely to what small business owners want and need and are flexible when it comes to adjusting their... Read More