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National, state Small Business Week winners honored


Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va.  — Several West Virginia small businesses gathered Wednesday at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center for a luncheon to honor the national and state 2017 Small Business Week winners.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) West Virginia District Office holdsnational and state 2017 Small Business Week winners luncheon each year to honor the work done for the state by small businesses.
(Photo by Kelsie Lerose)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) West Virginia District Office holds the luncheon each year to honor the work done for the state by small businesses.

According to the SBA press release, for the third year in a row a West Virginia small business has received national accolades for National Small Business Week awards.

“What we as resource partners have found is that these small businesses don’t have the time to take the opportunity to bask in the realization of the impact that they are individually making to West Virginia’s economy and to our nation’s economy,” said SBA’s West Virginia district director Karen Friel.

“That is why we gather here during National Small Business Week to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and to be able to recognize those efforts and be able to share those with all of you.”

Friel was joined by keynote speaker Woody Thrasher, West Virginia Secretary of Commerce; Congressman Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.; and representatives from several state officials who are currently in session to offer congratulations to the award winners and celebrate the state’s small businesses.

Thrasher started out as a small businessman himself.

Woody Thrasher
WV Commerce Secretary

“I realize the challenges you face,” he said during his speech. “I really from the bottom of my heart compliment you on your efforts.”

Thrasher said the state really has a challenge ahead of it.

“The opportunity to come and respond to that is not only my  job, but is all of your jobs as well,” he said. “Just like the bad news is that we have a long, long way to go, the good news is that the future truly is in the hands of the people that are (at the luncheon).

“My job is to bring new jobs to West Virginia. That is done not only through bringing in new companies, but it is also done through growing existing companies.”

Thrasher added that he believes the future of West Virginia is through small businesses.

“That is specifically why I really worked hard … to get this broadband legislation passed, and it did just pass and the governor signed it,” Thrasher said.

“We had some site-selection folks come in and address the Legislature on what companies look for when they want to come somewhere. Number three on the list is the quality of life in that area. Twenty years ago quality of life wasn’t even in the top 20; today it is number three.”

He added that one thing West Virginia has is great quality of life.

“We have the underpinnings to be incredibly successful, but I think the real culture of West Virginia is in those small communities across our state,” he said. “If we can generate economic development in those small communities, that is where our future is going to be. I think broadband is one of the critical components of that.”

The state does well at getting back with prospective business and nurturing small businesses that are operating, Thrasher said, but he wants to work on being better at promoting entrepreneurism in the state.

“The key is to also be able to generate entrepreneurial capital so more (small businesses) can be providing jobs throughout West Virginia,” he said. “It is a real pleasure for me today to honor you.”

Leah Heimbach, co-founder of Healthcare Management Solutions LLC (HMS) in Fairmont, is the recipient of the National 8(a) Graduate of the Year.

HMS was nominated at the district level, then was selected to compete at the regional level and finally at the national level where it was chosen for the award. HMS works to address federal, state and local health care concerns, particularly with Medicare and Medicaid services, the release said.

Heimbach previously told the Times West Virginian that the award was a “shock.”

“It is extremely satisfying because of the kind work of that we do — a good part of it being inspecting health care facilities, especially nursing homes,” she said.

She added that she believes the award makes what all the company’s employees do worth it for them.

“The huge number of staff (members) that we have who do those inspections and fly all around the country week after week, they see some really not good conditions where nursing home residents reside and are able to make an impact,” Heimbach said.

“This just kind of validates how important their work is, and sort of recognizes how meaningful it is and what a hard time they have dealing with at-risk populations.”

Delaina Kucish, owner of Our Country Corner in Fairmont, is the recipient of the 2017 West Virginia Encore Entrepreneur of the Year. To be eligible for the award, the owner of the business had to start the business after the age of 50.

Kucish has reinvented herself as an entrepreneur three times. She opened Mailboxes Etc. in 1997, which today is the UPS store. In 2002, she opened a new branch for Edward Jones Investment in Westover and became a parter in 2006. In 2013, she and her daughter opened Our Country Corner.

“A good investment is one that matches opportunity with value, and I certainly think we have both of those in West Virginia,” she said.

Kucish is very thankful for Tina Shaw and the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

“I can’t adequately say enough kind things about the help and assistance that I have gotten from our local chamber and most particularly Tina Shaw,” she added.

The luncheon is cosponsored by: MVB Bank, Regional Development Funding Corporation, Huntington National Bank, First Microloan of West Virginia, Impakt Marketing, SCORE and the West Virginia SBDC.

Other state winners include: Phoenix Awards – Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer (national winner), Susan Jack — Clendenin; West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year, Matthew Knott — River Riders Family Adventure Resort in Harpers Ferry; West Virginia Small Business Exporter of the Year, Justin Seibert — Direct Online Marketing in Wheeling; West Virginia Family-Owned Small Business of the Year, Donald Riggenbach — Riggenbach Tile and Carpet in New Martinsville; West Virginia Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year, Chin Orih — Corporate Cleaning Services LLC in Morgantown; West Virginia Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year, Elizabeth Yeager Cross — Yeager Design & Interiors in Scott Depot; West Virginia Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year, Chad Ranson & John Roberts — Ranson Inspection Services LLC in Ripley; West Virginia Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Dakota Janowitz — DJ’s Firewood in Augusta; West Virginia Small Business Champion of the Year, Patrick Ford — Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle in Weirton; West Virginia Lender of the Year — Huntington National Bank; West Virginia Community Bank of the Year — MVB Bank; and West Virginia Microlender of the Year — First Microloan of West Virginia.

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