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Success Stories

Shelice and Michael Tolbert of Tolbert & Tolbert LLC, Gary, Indiana

Shelice and Michael Tolbert met in middle school.  They had some of the same friends, went to some of the same parties, but it never crossed either of their young minds that one day they would grow up, marry, and open a successful law practice in their Northwestern Indiana town of Gary.  At least not until Shelice started hitching rides with Michael to and from Valparaiso University where they both attended law school. 

After law school, Shelice and Michael took prestigious jobs with high profile firms in Chicago.  They got married.  But there was one subject where their conversations kept turning.

“We always talked about having a law firm in the city where we grew up,” Shelice said.

Even though Gary is the ninth largest city in Indiana, since the middle of the 20th century it has seen a population loss of over 55 percent.  This is due to the spiraling fall of US Steel Gary Works, which was the primary employer in the city.  As US Steel continued to draw down,... Read More

Shane Conner, ATEC INC. Owner

Shane Conner likes to play with lights.  He, and his company, Advanced Technologies in Electrical and Communications, Inc.(ATEC, INC.), lay the electrical groundwork to turn lights on and off for a lot of big projects--hospitals, universities, and the Super Bowl. 

That's right.  The Super Bowl.  And Conner says that because of special SBA loan programs, he's able to pay his teams to help him keep all those lights on before, after, and during the big game.

“I use lines of credit backed by SBA to cover major expenses,” Connor said, “like the Super Bowl.”

Conner has four lines of SBA-backed credit which were approved under Patriot Express, the forerunner to the Veterans Advantage Program, which encourages lenders to make loans to Veteran-owned businesses by providing relaxed requirements. 

But lines of credit aren't the only SBA resources Conner has taken advantage of.  Conner is a graduate of two SBA entrepreneurial development initiatives; Emerging... Read More

Dr. Joey Rivera, Rivera Group CEO and Founder

For four years in a row, the federal government reached its small business federal contract awards goal of 23%.  Not only did they reach the goal, they beat it by over $9 billion dollars, meaning that during FY 2016, the federal government awarded 24.34% of their prime and sub-contracting contracts to small businesses.  These are the kind of numbers that make small business owners, like Indiana District Office’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year, Rivera Group’s Dr. Joey Rivera, very proud they took advantage of SBA resources such as the 8(a) program to earn their slice of the federal contracting pie.

Rivera Group, headquartered in Sellersburg, Indiana, is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) with expertise in Information Technology resources and Cyber Security.  Rivera says he wouldn’t be where he is today without SBA.

“My first encounter with SBA was in 2005 when I went to a SBA seminar on how to do business with the government.”  Rivera was... Read More

The owner of Indianapolis based RYAN Consulting Group, Keith Harding poses with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon after accepting his award as SBA Indiana District Office National Small Business Week 2017 8(a) Graduate of the Year.  Photo by Katie Maynard.

For Keith Harding, being an entrepreneur wasn’t his initial calling.  It became his reality after a car accident during high school left him a paraplegic. He applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration and realized that it wasn’t an income on which he could survive. 

“I got my first check from SSI and it was $461. I knew I couldn’t sustain on that,” Harding says.

Almost 30 years later, Harding owns the Indianapolis based multi-million dollar tech company RYAN Consulting Group, which boasts close to 100 employees. His yearly net profit is well over 1,000 times as much as that first SSI check. 

After his accident and that first paltry check, Harding decided he wasn’t going to sit on his laurels and be content with life. Harding enrolled in a local training program and learned Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), a computer programming language designed for business use. Harding began working for IBM in 1989, for... Read More