Success Stories

How the Missouri SBTDC and Mid-Missouri SCORE Helped Wheelchair Personalities Get Rolling to Give Vets and Others a Boost

If you have ever been confined to a wheelchair, even for a short time, you know it can be depersonalizing. It may be that you are below eye level, but no matter the cause, those in wheelchairs are often ignored. Sharon Paulsell and her husband Steve found when running Honor Flights out of Columbia, Missouri that strangers readily approached and thanked ambulatory Veterans for their services while those in wheelchairs were often overlooked. 

Sharon and Steve also found during trips that the hundreds of wheelchairs at the national World War II Memorial all looked the same. Once, a wheelchair from their group was accidentally loaded onto a bus for another Honor Flight leading to an extensive search to track it down.  Luggage tags or newspaper bags tied to the wheelchairs just weren’t cutting it to identify their wheelchairs at a glance. 

The issues became the impetus for the creation of a new business called Wheelchair Personalities.  At first, Sharon didn’t plan... Read More


If you’re one of the thousands of St. Louis-area drivers every day making your way easier through the new I-64/Highway 40 interchange, you can offer a little thanks for the work done there from a small, but fast-growing mom-owned business.

Vicki LaRose’s firm, Civil Design, Inc. (CDI), is on track to break $3 million in sales this year, and has a portfolio of civil engineering projects including work on the Boone Bridge, University of Missouri system, Metropolitan Sewer District and Metrolink.  She began her company as a stay-at-home mom, and over the years thanks in part to SBA small business financing, has expanded to offices in southern Illinois and Kentucky, specializing in construction management, environmental, site development, surveying, water resources, and transportation engineering. 

Pretty good for somebody who didn’t know what kind of engineer she wanted to be when she grew up.  Back in high school, LaRose chalked up good grades in math and science, and... Read More

When Carla Reid signed up for Grace Hill Women’s Business Centers’ Business Development Class she really had no intention of opening a business—ever.  With her background and passion in social services, her goal was to open a non-profit entity to offer men in the community employment training and computer skills classes to help them find work.  Maybe in the distant future she could build a reputation and get client referrals from area agencies.  But after a friend mentioned the business development class, she was curious and signed up.

Thanks to the class, and help from the SBA Microloan program, she’s turned her dream to help her clients into a for-profit business.

Carla’s space in south St. Louis features hardwood floors and trendy exposed brick walls, soft jazz music and sports on the TV.  Make no mistake, it’s a place where a guy can be a guy, while getting sweetly pampered.  Elevated Men’s Salon’s offers haircuts, shaves, manicures, pedicures, facials and more. ... Read More

Knowing Your Place in the Past Can Help Assure Your Place in the Future: How SBA Resource Partners Helped EyeSeeMe LLC Turn Their Vision into Reality

When she was a young child, Pamela Blair was spellbound by the stories her father, Shadrock Porter, would weave of the leaders and peoples of the ancient great kingdoms of Africa.  Thanks to sage planning advice from St. Louis-area SBA resource partners, she’s joining her husband, Jeffrey, in an effort to bring tales of African heroes and great African Americans to children in the community.

The family-owned business, EyeSeeMe, provides books, games, puzzles, posters and music to highlight positive images to children of Biblical and African American heroes.  The couple launched its web site in April 2012, and is becoming a steady presence at vendor fairs and school fundraising events.

While Pamela was proud of the history of her ancestors, and eagerly shared those stories with her curious children, she found the knowledge of their African past wasn’t well understood by their school friends.  Pamela would visit classrooms, and was astonished that there were no pictures... Read More