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Profiles of SBA Award winners

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Small Business Person of the Year

Jeannette Carrico

The Exit Light Co.

Jeannette founded The Exit Light Co. in the year 2000 with the goal to create an emergency lighting and egress sign company that specializes in energy efficient and environmentally friendly products.

She has taken the company from the beginning stages to the No. 1 retail online business for exit and emergency lights and signs. She has consistantly grown the business in various areas, such as number of employees, net income and net worth, government contracts and business partnerships, which make The Exit Light Co. a model small business. Carrico’s charismatic personality inspires others to consistently look for new opportunities, as well as innovative and creative approaches. She challenges the status quo, looks for alternatives and asks questions with boldness. With much enthusiasm, commitment and dedication, she strives for the successful growth of The Exit Light Co. and to ultimately create more jobs in the San Diego area.

Carrico also believes in giving back and actively contributes to charities and volunteers locally in the community. The Exit Light Co. is proud to have been able to donate exit and emergency lighting products to nonprofit organizations that have been affected by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters in an effort to encourage economic redevelopment within their communities.

Carrico is the driving force for the company, not only with respect to the level of experience that she brings to her daily activities at the company, but also with respect to her outreach and participation in the community through active and monthy volunteer work.

Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year

Thomas McGowan

McGowan Enterprises

dba C.A.T. Kits, Acute Care and Pharma

Tom McGowan began his training in medicine as a Navy Medical Corpsman in 1972, went on to work as a pharmacy technician and pharmacy purchasing agent for Green Hospital and Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, and then became a successful pharmaceutical sales manager with Williams Medical in Placentia, Calif.

In 1997, he started his business with the founding of C.A.T. Kits, supplying standard and cutomized cardiac, anaphylactic and trauma (CAT) kits to the medical industry nationally. In 1999 he started Acute Care Pharmaceuticals, which provides a broader scope of pharmaceutical niche products to pharmacy buyers in need of a specialty supplier. In 2006, McGowan added a disposable line of clean room supplies and in 2008 Acute Care began contract manufacturing a line of McGowan’s own clean room disposable products, introducing his seventh product branded to Acute Care Pharmaceuticals in July 2009.

McGowan has grown his business to 20 full-time employees, of which six are U.S. Armed Forces veterans. McGowan demonstrates a true entrepreneurial spirit, always watching for new ways to expand his business by creating products that his clients need.

Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Rachel Welland

Bliss Events

Rachel Welland is one of San Diego’s most sought-after wedding specialists and event coordinators. She, along with her Bliss Events team, have had the pleasure of working with some of the city’s most stylish and discerning clinentele to create everything from dream-like weddings to dazzling private affairs.

Welland’s passion for event planning developed at an early age, when she organized her fourth-grade school pajama party. Ever since that day, her limitless energy, creativity and gift of organization have provided her with the winning combination of skills needed to excel in the industry. She continued planning events throughout high school, college and beyond -- in every genre from fundraising galas and auctions, to weddings and social soirées, to trade shows and community service programs.

With a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in interior design and experience gained from working within the interior design and event planning industries, Welland has acquired a wealth of knowledge that enhances the event concepts and designs she creates for her clients, giving them added style and demension.

After working at Bliss Events for six months, she purchased the business assets and goodwill with her significant other, Adam. In just three short years, she has increased the number of events from 15 to 35, tripled the number of employees as well as the number of vendors from whom she buys and rents, increased the equity of the business, paid for the purchase in full and has zero liabilities. This is a recipe for success!

Welland’s passion for working with people and celebrating life’s exciting moments has led her to dedicate herself to the creation and execution of fabulous weddings and events at Bliss Events.

Minority Small Business Champion of the Year

La Sonja Boulware

BizNess Variety

La Sonja Boulware started her consulting group BizNess Variety in 1989. It grew from her passion for helping small business owners and individuals learn to creatively market their talents, skills and services. Her business has since expanded to reach out to students transitioning from school to the work force.

Boulware donates BizNess Variety’s services to the business community; particularly for those just starting out in the San Diego and Sacramento communities. For many years, Boulware has served the community as an active member of several organizations including the Sacramento Business network, the NAACP, the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce and Californians for Justice, to name a few. Her community work has allowed her the privilege of being featured in such periodicals as the Sacramento Observer, Black Enterprise Magazine, the BASS Advocate and the Sacramento Business Network Co-Op Review.

In addition to running her business, Boulware has been employed with the state of California for 19 years and is currently employed by the California Department of Transportation, managing five units including Small Business. In this role she facilitates outreach programs to train small businesses on how to compete for Caltrans contracts.

Delores Braswell Award: Advocating Women in Business

Cheryl Protzeller

P2 Solutions Inc.

Shortly after opening her own business in 2007, originally named Personalized Personnel Inc., Cheryl Protzeller began offering human resources workshops once a month at the North San Diego County Small Business Development Center (SBDC). In addition, she assisted the SBDC in the areas of community outreach and public relations, which resulted in an increased awareness of the services provided by the SBDC.

In 2008, she joined the SBDC as an independent consultant offering one-on-one counseling services to small businesses in the area of government contracting. She has since counseled more than 250 small businesses with step-by-step guidance in obtaining government certifications, registrations, marketing and bidding on local, state and federal contract opportunities, resulting in an increase of over $1.5 million dollars and a creation of more than 50 new jobs within the local small business community.

In addition to her consulting services, Protzeller has conducted various pro-bono workshops to small businesses and job seekers in the areas of marketing, database creation, time management, government contracting, human resources and business startup.

Protzeller is also actively involved in the small business community. She participates in CCCP (California Construction Contracting Program); spearheaded the Vista Chamber of Commerce’s HR in the AM program; is an active member of MBA (Mom Business Associates); is part of B2B People Networking and is also on the board of directors for Casita Center PTA.

SBA Small Business Lenders of the Year

SBA Lenders achieve outstanding results year after year. These two SBA lenders are recognized for producing the most 7a and 504 loans last year. These lenders were most effective in lending to small businesses, not only locally, but nationwide. They also excelled in loans to women and minority businesses. They are role models among SBA lenders. SBA’s loan programs help businesses that cannot obtain needed financing through conventional means.

Kurt Chilcott

President & CEO

CDC Small Business Finance Corp.

Under Kurt Chilcott’s leadership, CDC Small Business Finance Corp. has been the nation’s leading SBA 504 lender for more than a decade.

In fiscal year 2009, CDC made a total of 429 SBA-504 loans, providing $678 million in total financing and generating $369 million in first trust deeds for banks in California, Arizona and Nevada. In San Diego alone, the CDC made 90 504 loans, providing $114 million in total financing and generating $65 million in first trust deed volume for San Diego and Imperial county banks.

Through these loans, small businesses in CDC’s tri-state coverage area were able to create and preserve 7,800 jobs. Chilcott’s leadership has resulted in the growth of hundreds of diverse small companies and the development of new lending products, including most recently a secondary market product for SBA-504 loans.

Chilcott is a recognized economic development leader nationally. He developed and managed numerous economic development initiatives at state and local levels for more than 15 years.

SBA Loan Division, Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has been one of the leading SBA 7a lenders for the past several years. Figures for the federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2009, show Wells Fargo, together with Wachovia, extended 2,347 SBA-guaranteed loans totaling $827 million in financing to small businesses. Wells Fargo is the No. 1 SBA lender in both dollars and units in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas. In San Diego, Wells Fargo made 78 7a loans for $22.6 million in fiscal year 2009.

Additionally, Wells Fargo has been a major lending participant in SBA’s America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) Loan Program, providing short-term relief for many small businesses nationwide facing immediate financial hardship due to the current uncertain economic times.

Wells Fargo’s SBA Loan Division endeavors to provide much needed financial assistance to entrepreneurs looking to improve and grow their businesses utilizing a variety of SBA loan guaranty programs. George Chandler Leadership Award

This award recognizes an individual or organization for leadership and commitment to excellence in the San Diego community. This year’s award goes to:

Rene Trevino, Architect

In 1976, Rene Trevino received an associate’s degree in architectural drafting from Mesa Community College and in 1978 earned his bachelor’s in architecture from the School of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Trevino recently retired after 31 years of federal service with the Department of the Navy. He began his federal career in 1978 as a facilities planner for Naval Air Station Miramar. Between 1988 and 2005, Trevino held several positions at various Naval Facilities in San Diego.

In 2005, he became the executive director for Navy Region Southwest, a position he held until his retirement in 2010. As the executive director, Trevino was responsible for an annual budget of more than $1 billion for all base operations from facilities management, environmental, force protection and air/port operations.

Trevino, a registered architect in the state of California, is a member of the American Institute of Architects; a member of the Society of American Military Engineers; a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus; a member of the Saint Gregory Great Development Steering Committee and a member of the California State Polytechnic University Pomona Presidents National Development Council. Over the years, Trevino has also been a leader in sustainable energy practices and been a featured speaker at several conferences promoting green living and business practices.

Community Service Award

John Bjeldanes, SCORE

John Bjeldanes has been a volunteer member of SCORE Chapter 140 since 2004 and has served on the board of directors as chief financial officer/treasurer and as vice president of programs. He continues to serve on various committees and as one of the most requested counselors, is extremely active in SCORE’s face-to-face, field and e-mail counseling programs. Bjeldanes has also been actively involved with the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, having served as chairman of the Finance Committee and currently serving on the Advisory Board.

For many years, Bjeldanes has been actively involved in San Diego’s Ice Hockey programs, both youth and adult, as a player and a coach. He has performed certification clinics for more than 5,000 coaches and has served as risk manager with USA Hockey, responsible for five western states. He continues to be actively involved with the hockey programs as a volunteer.

He volunteers his time and offers the benefits of his knowledge to many in the business and local communities and sets a wonderful example for others to follow.

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