Success Stories

Determination and a strong work ethic are built into Rachel Upton’s nature, especially when it comes to her Columbus-based small business, Cream & Sugar. When a building became available in Hilltop in 2014, she didn’t hesitate to buy, eager to transform the former Dairy Queen into her small business dream.

Stocked with products from other small businesses, like Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, Stauf’s coffee, Nickle’s Bakery and Falters hotdogs, Upton was able to keep her business running thanks to technical assistance and counseling provided by SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME).

The PRIME Grant helps low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital and counseling to establish and expand their small businesses. This year, the SBA awarded Ohio’s Finance Fund Capital Corporation a $150,000 grant to support and strengthen cooperative forms of businesses. Counselors have helped advise Upton while she transforms the Hilltop business little by little... Read More

Owner Robert Ramsey

When Robert Ramsey started his Cincinnati-based cleaning service company, Decently and In Order in 2013, he found a confusing assortment of supposed small business resources. Not knowing which certifications would help, he signed up for a “Gold Certified” program that promised to help bring in customers and promote awareness for his small business.

“All it did was put a gold seal on my website,” Ramsey said. “I wasted a lot of money in my first year as a small business getting useless certifications. Luckily, I found the Small Business Development Center at the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. They were a great and legitimate resource.”

Thanks to the resources and mentorship offered at the SBDC, which is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce’s Business Development program, Ramsey was able to find the direction that he was looking for, getting advice on procurement certifications including... Read More

SBA Administrator Linda McMahon speaks with Burton Metal Finishing Owner Scott Burton

In October 2013, a three alarm fire heavily damaged the building that Columbus, Ohio-based Burton Metal Finishing Inc. & Powder Coating had operated out of since 1987. Three generations of hard work disappeared into a blaze of flames and the family-owned business was left to pick up the pieces. Although urged by many to walk away from the business, the Burtons decided to rebuild with the help of a SBA 504 loan.

They re-opened in 2015 and have steadily worked their way up to pre-fire operational capacity, providing metal-finishing and powder coating to businesses including Ulta Beauty, L Brands and Rogue Fitness.

Scott Burton, the vice president of Burton Metal Finishing also took advantage of the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program as another tool to recover and expand his business. The executive-level training program helps small, poised-for-growth companies with the potential for job creation.

“I didn’t want to go back to school,” Burton said. “But with... Read More

Merry Korn, Pearl Interactive Network

When Merry Korn started her small business, Pearl Interactive Network, Inc., she initially struggled to find a niche for her small business. Even more daunting was the federal contracting certification process that she wanted to pursue. Merry reached out to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Columbus District Office to meet with Business Opportunity Specialist Jill Nagy-Reynolds.

“Jill had a massive impact on my business,” Merry said. “Even though I only had three employees, she treated me with respect and helped me through the process of becoming a certified woman-owned small business.”

Merry also received help from the local Procurement Technical Assistance Center and from Nancy Stoll at the Columbus Small Business Development Center. After becoming certified, Merry was able to secure a large contract with a prime contractor, helping her to expand her business to 550 employees and increasing her company revenue to $12 million. She was also able to move into a... Read More