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Small business owners are the backbone of the country’s economy. SBA Orange County / Inland Empire District Office salutes the entrepreneurial spirit of  every one of you.

 The SBA OCIE is looking for nominations for small business or champions in the counties of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino. Simply click on the category title you want to nominate. The link goes directly to the nomination page.

Small Business Person of the Year, Exporter of the Year, and 8(a) Graduate of the Year compete at the state and national level 

***Deadline to Submit Nominations is January 7, 2020***

For questions or assistance with your nomination package contact:

Sylvia Gutierrez,, 714.560.7454 or

Cheryl Pereira,, 714.560.7443

The U.S. Small Business Administration, Orange County/Inland Empire District Office is proud to announce it is now accepting nominations for its 2020 Small Business Week Awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year award.

Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy. For over 50 years, SBA has continued its tradition in honoring the nation’s 30 million small businesses.

SBA’s awards are presented in celebration of National Small Business Week, May 3-9, 2020, and include the following:


*SMALL BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR:(chosen from among state award winners from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam): A business owner who has developed an outstanding, growing business with staying power, growth in number of employees over three years, has overcome adversity, designed innovative product(s), increased sales and profits and contributed to the community.  Business owner received SBA assistance.

*EXPORTER OF THE YEAR:  A business owner operating for at least three years who has significantly increased export sales and has encouraged other firms to export, increased employment through exports, and used innovative methods to create markets abroad.  Business owner received SBA assistance.

*8(a) GRADUATE OF THE YEAR:  All formerly certified 8(a) business participants that graduated from the 8(a) program for at least a year as of April 1, 2019.  Evaluated on management, exceptional results, cost performance, innovation and economic engagement of the disadvantaged community. The firm does not have to currently be a small business.

YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR: A business owner under 40 years of age, running their own business, shows creativity, leadership, character, and determination. Also, shows response to adversity, growth in employees, staying power and contributions to community. Business must be profitable, show potential for growth. Young entrepreneur must be in business for at least three years.

SBIR/STTR GRANT RECIPIENT OF THE YEAR: Business or organization that received an SBIR or STTR grant award to further their concept. Entity can demonstrate best use of investment funds to stimulate technical innovation, business impact, broader social and economic benefits with such product. Entity must exemplify the mission and goals of the SBIR/STTR program.

WOMAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: At least 51% woman owned with a minimum of three years in business. Demonstrate business success and growth. Show creativity, leadership, character, and determination. SBA assistance preferred but not required.

MICRO-BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Has a growing business with less than nine employees. Business shows staying power, increase in sales, contributions to the community and innovativeness of product or service. Received assistance from the SBA network of resources and lenders. Has been in business for more than one year.

FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Family owned and operated business by a family or passed on to the next generation.  Nominees must also serve as a majority owner and operator or bear principal responsibility for operating the small business with a minimum of 3 year-track record. Evidence of success as measured by sales and profits, increased employment opportunities for family members and non-family members potential for long-term business success and community contributions.

COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE AWARD: Any organization, department, or chamber that collaborates with local SBA District Office and Resource Partners that demonstrates helping build small businesses, including startups, by creating and implementing innovative programs, events, publications, and research materials. This success is demonstrated through success stories, job creation/retention and revenue growth resulting from these programs, events, and research materials.

VETERAN SMALL BUSINESS CHAMPION OF THE YEAR Nominees must have worked to increase business opportunities for veterans to own and prosper in small businesses, providing training and counseling to veterans and military spouses; collaboration with local SBA District Office and Resource Partners to deliver innovative programs, events and research materials.

(*) Denotes a National Award Category and competes at National, State and Local levels – See Guidelines for National Award Categories

Note: To nominate a candidate or to obtain more information, contact Sylvia Gutierrez at (714) 560-7454 or Cheryl Pereira at (714) 560-7443

(*) denotes a National award category.  All other categories compete at the district level tri-county area.  Submit complete packages to SBA Orange County/Inland Empire District Office, 5 Hutton Centre Drive, Suite 900, Santa Ana, CA  92707 by January 7, 2020.

***Deadline to Submit Nominations is January 7, 2020***

Get some good tips from this SBA Blog Post:  How to Submit a Winning National Small Business Week Award Nomination

To see a list of the SBA Orange County / Inland Empire 2019 Small Business Week awardees click here.

SBA’s participation is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any participants, person or entity.

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