Recognizing Central & Southern Ohio’s Entrepreneurs & the Champions that Support Them National Small Business Week Winners


Ramona Mills, Director of The Women’s Business Center of Central Ohio

Small Business Owners are recognized for their great work!

This year marks the 56th anniversary of National Small Business Week, set aside by the President to celebrate America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

“Small businesses are the economic fabric of Ohio communities, employing 2.2 million people in the state,” said SBA Columbus District Director Everett Woodel. “We are excited to recognize some of the many hardworking entrepreneurs who have made a difference, providing local jobs and unique products and services.”

Central and Southern Ohio Honorees include:

Ohio Small Business Person of the Year: Kristen Bailey, Sweets and Meats, Cincinnati. Starting in 2014, Bailey utilized SBA-guaranteed loans to expand her BBQ business to two food trucks and a brick and mortar building, with eleven staff members. She recently launched a non-profit aimed at driving local tourism and helping other small businesses in the food industry with entrepreneurial training.

Exporter of the Year: Leah Simoes, Davenport Aviation, Columbus. Davenport Aviation is a global specialist in aircraft parts procurement and maintenance support solutions. Simoes utilized the SBA’s export capital program and State Trade Expansion Program to gain entry into commercial airlines in Vietnam, Indonesia, India and other regions. She has developed an internship program to help students gain experience in a global workplace environment.

Distinguished Small Business: Nancy Pauly, Eva’s Treats, Ashland. Eva’s Treats is a frozen yogurt shop that opened in 2013 with the help of an SBA-guaranteed loan. A 2017 graduate of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce program “Leadership Ashland,” Pauly is heavily involved in local community organizations. She employs 18 staff members and has partnered with seven local public schools to provide nutritional treats to students.

Historically Underutilized Business Zone-Certified Small Business: Franklin Harris, John Cecil Construction, Columbus. John Cecil Construction opened in 2009. Franklin Harris utilized SBA’s 8(a) certification to grow his business through government contracting. Located in a HUBZone, Harris has brought revitalization to the area, employing 20 employees to fulfill major contracts with the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Logistics Agency and others.

Small Business Development Center Service Excellence and Innovation Center of the Year: Mike Stater, Director, The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Warren County. The SBDC team at Warren County improved the entrepreneurial climate in southwestern Ohio, counseling 56 clients, which led to 20 new business starts in the area.

Women’s Business Center of the Year: Ramona Mills, Director, Women’s Business Center of Central Ohio, Columbus. The WBC works to empower women entrepreneurs with resources and tools to create strong sustainable businesses. In the last three years, the center has counseled 267 entrepreneurs, leading to the creation of 105 new businesses.

Veteran Advocate of the Year: Kimberly Tapia, Bunker Labs Entrepreneur City Leader, Columbus, OH. Bunker Labs provides assistance to military veterans interested in entrepreneurship. Bunker Labs Columbus is one of 22 locations across the United States.

Lender Recognition:

2018 Top Lender: The Huntington National Bank

2018 Top Five Lender: U.S. Bank, National Association

2018 Top Five Lender: Fifth Third Bank

2018 Top Five Lender: JP Morgan Chase Bank, National Association

2018 Top Five Lender: Peoples Bank

2018 Top Rural Lender: The Huntington National Bank

2018 Top CDC: HCDC

2018 Top Three CDC: Ohio Statewide Development Corporation

2018 Top Three CDC: Community Capital Development Corporation

2018 Top Micro Lender: Economic & Community Development Institute

2018 Rising Star: Heartland Bank

2018 Top Credit Union: Telhio Credit Union

National Small Business Week Virtual Conference

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and create two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. The U.S. Small Business Administration will celebrate America’s 30 million small businesses with events from May 5 – May 11.

Participate online and join events like hackathons, award ceremonies, and Twitter chats. Or meet other business owners and get expert advice at a free 2-day conference online. Find out more at

Upcoming Events

May 6 – National Small Business Week Awards Ceremony

9:00 a.m., The Point at Otterbein University, 60 Collegeview Rd., Westerville

May 7 Self Employment: From Dream to Reality

1:00 p.m., OSU Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Rd., Piketon

May 7 – Getting Started in Government Contracting

2:00 p.m., Ohio SBDC at Columbus State, 320 N. Grant Ave., Room 1068, Columbus

May 8 Strengthen Your Business

8:00 a.m., Edison State Community College, 1973 Edison Dr., Piqua

May 8- Doing Business with Franklin County

10:00 a.m., Webinar

May 8 Entrepreneurs Gathering

3:00 p.m., Dublin Entrepreneurial Center, 565 Metro Place South #300

Suite 180, Dublin

May 8 Solopreneurs Gather

4:00 p.m., Gather Cincy, 2345 Ashland Ave., Cincinnati

May 9 Women-Owned Small Business Program

10:30 a.m., Webinar

May 10 Community Entrepreneur Resource Day

11:00 a.m., Williams College of Business, Xavier University, Smith Hall Atrium, 3178 St. Francis Xavier Way, Cincinnati

May 10 SBA Contracting Certifications

1:00 p.m., 221 Chillicothe St., Portsmouth

May 16 Columbus Logistics Conference

7:30 a.m., Hilton Polaris, Rooms B, C & D, 8700 Lyra Dr., Columbus

May 22 Columbus: Export Financing

8:30 a.m., ECDI, 1655 Old Leonard Ave., Columbus

May 22 Dayton: Export Financing

1:00 p.m., The Entrepreneurs Center, 714 E. Monument Ave., Dayton

May 23 SBA Programs & Services

10:00 a.m., Webinar

May 31 Gem City Entrepreneur Resource Fair

5:30 p.m., Central State Dayton, West Campus, 840 Germantown St., Dayton

SBA Columbus District Office

401 N. Front St.,

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Phone: 614-469-6860

For more information visit

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