Success Stories

Not so very long ago, much of the storied Philadelphia Navy Yard lay dormant.  Once a vibrant hub of the nation’s maritime industry — employing 40,000 at its height during World War II and building and launching the likes of the battleship New Jersey into U.S. Naval service — the Yard closed in 1995, and 7,000 jobs were lost.  Although the Navy maintained some military facilities on the Yard’s western end post-closure, acre after desolate acre of the sprawling 1200 acre shipyard lay abandoned.  

For many, the decaying Navy Yard stood in silent testament to the broader decline of industrial America.  By the turn of the last century, untold numbers of industrial and manufacturing sector firms were shuttered in Philadelphia, alone.  Marketplace changes and foreign competition ravaged those sectors, and industry stalwarts like Rhoades Industries, a mechanical contracting and fabrication firm doing business in Philadelphia since 1938, were no exception.  

But endings often... Read More

Raising the bar—for herself, her employees, her patients and her community.  It is all in a day’s work for Lehigh Valley optometrist Sylvia Medina, O.D.  Drawing on her own life’s journey, which includes an incredible rise from 15-year-old high school drop out to well-respected optometrist, Dr. Medina’s life has been devoted to increasing access to healthcare, education and opportunity for otherwise struggling communities.  As the founder of the Lehigh Valley’s only Spanish-English bilingual optometry practice, Dr. Medina is making quality eye care attainable for a Spanish-speaking population that travels from as far as New York City to her Bethlehem, Penn. offices for treatment.  As a self-styled mentor for the patients and employees she sees every day, she is changing lives. 

From Dr. Medina’s own earliest years, the power of community environment and mentorship to change life’s path has been striking.  Dr. Medina’s youth was marked by teenage pregnancy, dropping out of... Read More

Post World War II America was a booming economy, but a nation divided.  With few exceptions, the era’s institutionalized segregation prevented African Americans from sharing in that prosperity.  But, in Philadelphia, an upstart black-owned travel agency found a way to turn segregation’s barriers into opportunities that would sustain it to become the oldest African-American-owned travel agency in the United States.  Today, that firm is using the same ingenuity--and some assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration--to conquer the federal government contracting market to help insure future success.

Earning a Place in History

In the years that followed the Allies’ victories in Europe and Japan, Americans took to the roads, rails and skies in unprecedented numbers.  The nation’s businesses were growing again, and more reliable employment opportunities meant that the dream of careers, homes, and a car in every driveway was becoming a reality for more and more... Read More

Disaster does not always strike the business on the 6:00 news, in some other town, or some more natural-disaster-prone region. It can occur anywhere, at any time. And, for the unprepared small business owner, an unanticipated tangle with nature’s fury or man-made disaster can mean business interruption, crippling property loss, or worse.But--thanks to assistance from the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program--southeastern Pennsylvania entrepreneurs Larry Klebanoff and Drew Wolf’s business, League Collegiate Wear, was spared from the brunt of those worst-case scenarios.

Getting off of the Ground
In 1991, Klebanoff and Wolf founded their collegiate-logo sports apparel business—League Collegiate Wear, Inc.—to target a market starved for on-trend college-themed gear updated to suit current fashion. By 1999, Klebanoff and Wolf had built that once home-based business into a market leader. They had planned for fashion trends, and they had planned for market demand, and all of... Read More