By Natalia Olson-Urtecho
The new year is a time of reflection for us all. For the180 Small Business Administration (SBA) offices, SCORE chapters, business development centers and other SBA resources I oversee in SBA’s mid-Atlantic region and me, this is an especially poignant time as I say goodbye to the many wonderful small business advocates and entrepreneurs I’ve met during my tenure as President Obama’s appointee to lead business development here.
In these four-plus years, I’ve put more than 50,000 miles on my personal vehicle and untold more in plane, rental car and rail miles to visit as many regional partners and small business owners as I possibly could. My goal was to learn from each one, what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong and what we weren’t doing at all to help them grow our economy. Each story of entrepreneurs and partners ring of a conviction to make a better life for families and communities and I’ve learned so much from each encounter.
Recognized as SBA’s Eastern Pa., Mid-Atlantic Region and National 2013 Small Business Exporter of the Year, Zeigler Bros. of East Berlin, PA, is in its third generation of family-owned leadership. The company, founded in 1935, continues to develop new and innovative technologies for specialty feed, focusing on aquaculture, pet, zoo and laboratory animal feed for bio-medical research.
Zeigler Bros. Inc. has relied on SBA and the Kutztown Small Business Development Center for more than 20 years for assistance in areas as diverse as trade issues to export finance, market analysis and even document translation. The firm manufactures more than 300 products and exports to over 40 countries around the world.
Funding through SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant helped the company study the nutritional requirements of newly-hatched marine finfish while exploring creative manufacturing methods for live feeds.
SBA plays an important role as the coordinating agency for the SBIR program, through which we direct implementation of 11 agencies’ programs, review their progress and report annually to Congress. SBA is also the information link to SBIR. SBA collects solicitation information from all participating agencies and publishes it quarterly.
Ziegler Bros. is just one example of small business success in Pennsylvania. In the eastern half of the commonwealth during fiscal year 2016, SBA guaranteed 1,600 loans in excess of $565 million contributing to retention and creation of an approximate 15,588 jobs, provided training to 130 plus small business owners on new health care laws, extended 15 disaster assistance loans amounting to an estimated $1.1 million home owners and small businesses and provided training to 21,541 clients.
I’m proud of the accomplishments of the small businesses and of SBA in Pennsylvania. We are, after all, the only federal agency specifically created to help entrepreneurs get going, growing, and hiring. As I like to say, “Business is our middle name.”
Our capable and eager business and lending specialists look forward to helping you with your entrepreneurial dream in 2017.
Natalia Olson-Urtecho Olson-Urtecho oversaw more than 180 SBA offices, SCORE chapters, business development centers, and other resources while managing a field staff of more than 100 loan, business, community outreach specialists and support personnel. She worked with local lenders and successful firms across the region, overseeing more than $34.2 billion in federal government contracts for goods and services purchased from local entrepreneurs.
The mission of the SBA is to aid, counsel, assist and promote the interests of small businesses by providing financial, procurement and business development assistance and advocating on their behalf within the government. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.