ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration Georgia District Office announced its 2022 Georgia award winners.
The U.S. Small Business Administration Georgia District Office announced its 2022 Georgia award winners ahead of National Small Business Week, which takes place May 1-7. This year’s NSBW theme, “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” highlights the resilience, ingenuity, and creativity of America’s 32.5 million small businesses.
“National Small Business Week recognizes the impact of entrepreneurs and small businesses as the engine of America’s economy,” said SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison. “Small businesses have played an integral role in our nation’s economic comeback and have navigated various challenges during the pandemic. We’re proud to highlight the success, entrepreneurship, and the spirit of helping other small businesses by our award winners this year.”
Small Business Person of the Year
Ardina Pierre, chief executive officer of Nature’s Own Herb Shop in Hapeville, Ga., was named the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year. The award recognizes small business owners who demonstrate staying power and substantiated history as an established business with at least three years of business operation. Ardina has received SBA counseling services and loans since 1997. She’s a longtime client of ACE Loans Women’s Business Center. In 2017, she received an SBA loan that helped her improve her building’s energy efficiency. Another SBA loan in 2020 helped her open a second location in North Metro Atlanta. Ardina will join other state winners during a virtual ceremony on May 5 when the SBA’s National Small Business Person of the Year will be named.
Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year
Michael Randall, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, is the president and CEO of Safeguard Security Solutions LLC in Stockbridge, Ga. He is a service-disabled veteran owned business and an 8(a) business development participant, which is a 9-year SBA program that helps socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners expand their footprint in the federal marketplace. Michael founded Share the Dream Foundation Inc. to provide holistic veteran support services through mentorship, college prep, veteran hospital visits and seminars. In 2021, he helped six veterans start their own businesses and non-profit organizations.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Destiny Brewton is the founder and CEO of A House Called Hue in Atlanta. She started her entrepreneurial journey in 2016, providing African American themed head wraps, t-shirts, and pens. She pivoted to custom embroidery products and today her business caters to other Black and women-owned small businesses by providing their branding a professional look and feel. She worked with SBA resource partners for counseling and financing options that helped her move from a home-based business to a brick-and-mortar location and expand her production line.
Financial Services Champion of the Year
Sherry Martin of Georgia Primary Bank, an SBA preferred lender, is the Director of SBA Government Guaranteed Lending. Under her leadership the bank was able to successfully close hundreds of PPP loans for both customers and non-customers. She’s actively involved with the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, Invest Atlanta and the Georgia Lenders Quality Circle. She’s passionate about small business and continues to look for ways to serve existing and new entrepreneurs in the small business community.
Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Center Award
The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center in Gwinnett offers a variety of training and consulting services to new and experienced business owners looking to grow their business. When the pandemic started, the Gwinnett center was asked to lead a state-wide effort in developing and delivering webinars on SBA COVID-19 disaster programs. Director Glenn Kruse partnered with the local chamber, Georgia state offices, and other SBA resource partners to disseminate the latest pandemic assistance information in a delivery method easily understood and well received by audiences state-wide.
Women’s Business Center of the Year
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) Women’s Business Center in Norcross, Ga., empowers women, minorities and low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs through financial education and training. They launched a Woman-Owned Small Business Cohort Series to educate women business owners on the process to obtain SBA certification. They also have an annual speed coaching event where clients meet with successful business coaches to discuss strategies and solutions that are right for their business. ACE director Sandra Font partnered with other SBA resource partners to provide the latest COVID-19 relief information for small businesses through trainings, digital communications and one-on-one consultations with clients.
Boots to Business Veterans Business Outreach Center Instructor of the Year
Tim Craig is the Director of the SBA’s Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). Located in Warner Robins, Ga., inside the Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center, he is one of 22 directors across the U.S., teaching the SBA Boots to Business class, a free two-day, Introduction to Entrepreneurship curriculum. As a Boots to Business instructor, Tim teaches courses at military installations in both Georgia and South Carolina. During the pandemic, he conducted over 200 classes for more than 2,700 attendees.
SBA will host a virtual summit May 2-5 during National Small Business Week featuring educational seminars and resources for new and existing small businesses. For more information and to register, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/nsbw.