Success Stories

SBA’s 2017 Minority-Owned Business of the Year for Eastern Missouri: Geodata IT, LLC

Glance at any number of magazine articles or websites devoted to entrepreneurship and a recurring theme quickly emerges. Entrepreneurs often want to solve a problem, fulfill a need or make the world better. But they want to do it on their own terms.  That pretty much describes Justin Bennett, President and CEO of Geodata IT, a St. Louis based technology company.  Bennett, a U.S. Air Force veteran, sought the freedom to solve difficult challenges using the methods and technology of his choosing.  After being honorably discharged from the military, Bennett expanded his experience base through his work with various federal contractors including NJVC, Raytheon, and SAIC.  In 2012, Bennett gave in to his hunger for independence and founded Geodata IT, a business specializing in providing solutions to national security and geospatial mission requirements.  Early in the process he connected with the Small Business Administration and its resource partner SCORE.
“When I wrote my... Read More

SBA 2017 Missouri Small Business Person of the Year: Cohen Architectural Woodworking
Walk around the 54,000 square foot headquarters of Cohen Architectural Woodworking and something becomes clear immediately.  There’s more going on than just woodworking.  The employees look happy to be there.  They enjoy showing off their contributions to the company’s mission. Whether it’s developing drawings for a system of cabinets or precisely cutting each piece of wood, the enthusiasm is contagious.  The company’s founder and CEO, Phillip Cohen was named SBA’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year for the state of Missouri.  The secret of his success:  People first!
Cohen Architectural Woodworking is somewhat of a hub for those in need of a second chance.  Many of the company’s best employees are people with troubled pasts--ex-convicts, former drug addicts and others who have experienced some of life’s most horrible events.  In the eyes of Phil and his wife Gina, they... Read More

Five years out, SBA Emerging Leaders graduate is thriving better than ever

What do you do when corporate downsizing makes you rethink your career goals?  Well if you’re like Gloria Carter-Hicks, CEO of Hicks-Carter-Hicks consulting firm, you take your severance pay and invest in control of your own destiny.  You start your own business. A graduate of Alton Senior High School and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Carter-Hicks was raised in an entrepreneurial household.
“My father ran Carter’s Groceries in Alton, Illinois, a business of 37 years.  So I had a role model to look up to and then I entered the corporate world so it wasn’t like I was new to business, “she said.
Prior to launching her business in 1999, Carter-Hicks attended free start-up classes offered by SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  As her business grew she took advantage of every class and networking opportunity offered by the SBA, including the very first session of the Emerging Leaders Initiative, executive level training... Read More

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a variety of programs to help entrepreneurs start, build and grow their businesses. But even if a business never requires extra help with capital or counseling they can still receive a boost in business from participation in some lesser known SBA programs. That has been the experience of O’Fallon Casting, a nonferrous investment casting company based in O’Fallon Missouri.  

O’Fallon Casting produces a specialized foundry product for a relatively small international market. Purchased in 2003, O’Fallon Casting has evolved from being an above average foundry to a vibrant world class operation that more than doubled its annual revenue, from $10 million to $25 million, and added 70 additional jobs to the St. Louis economy. As it has grown the company also increased its focus on expanding technology and reaching out to the community.

Among the many initiatives implemented by the company was an increase in community involvement... Read More