San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network

2023 Small Business Awards Event Program

Champion! Celebrate! Inspire!

WELCOME FROM RUBEN GARCIA

Honoring Outstanding Small Business Owners in 2023

Ruben Garcia, SBA District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration for the San Diego & Imperial Valley

SBA District Director 
U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FOR THE SAN DIEGO & IMPERIAL VALLEY

Today we recognize our local small businesses that have prospered despite the difficulties they have faced during the pandemic. We also recognize those Small Business Champions who support and advocate for small businesses. Whether this is in the legislative arena advocating for reasonable and fair regulations, or helping small businesses start, recover, and grow, our advocates strive to help and protect small businesses.

As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and navigate through these uncertain economic times, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who assists our small businesses to overcome hardship and grow.

We want to acknowledge our Lending and Resource Partners… our many SBA participating lenders, for their outstanding support of SBA’s various loan programs, and technical assistance partner organizations including SCORE, the Small Business Development Centers, the SOCAL Veterans Business Outreach Center, and our Women’s Business Center, as well as, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and Community Navigator Pilot Program network, for all of the guidance and support they provide to our local entrepreneurs and small businesses. These organizations are true partners and do much to enhance the services the SBA provides locally.

The SBA provides technical assistance, guarantees loans made by SBA lending partners, helps small businesses get government contracts, and provides disaster recovery funding. The SBA has guaranteed funding for many companies like FedEx and Rubio’s, who started small and have grown to be large companies.

We congratulate today’s small business winners; and all our local small businesses, that they represent, and the community that supports them. We look forward to continued collaboration in seeing them continue to thrive, grow, and achieve the highest level of success.

The San Diego District Office of the SBA recognizes the commitment, hard work and perseverance of all those who have chosen the entrepreneurial track, and all those who endeavor to support them in achieving their dream.

Congratulations to all who were nominated and those who have been recognized as Small Business Award winners!

Special Guest – Tara Lynn Gray

Tara Lyn Gray Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate

Director
CALIFORNIA OFFICE OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADVOCATE (CalOSBA)

Tara Lynn Gray was sworn in on April 26, 2021, as the 5th Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. She serves as the voice for California’s 4.2 million small businesses in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Under Director Gray’s leadership, the California Office of the Small Business Advocate focuses on helping to bring about Governor Newsom’s California for All vision through further development of the state’s small business ecosystem and by ensuring that questions about equity and inclusion are the starting point for all of the state’s small business programs.

EMCEES

Ruben Garcia, SBA District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration for the San Diego & Imperial Valley

Emcee of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Ruben R Garcia is the Federal District Director for the SBA, U. S. Small Business Administration, and is responsible for the San Diego and Imperial Counties of California. As the SBA District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Ruben is responsible for the administration of the Federal government educational and financial opportunities for small business entrepreneurs.

Elmy Bermejo, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration

Elmy Bermejo, Emcee of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Ms. Bermejo has a passion for building and strengthening relationships while assisting people and organizations attain their goals. She has been a senior government official with more than 25 years of experience at the executive level and has established a successful record of collaboration with public and private stakeholders on a range of issues including workforce development, disaster relief, and small business.

Danny Fitzgerald, Regional Director of the San Diego & Imperial Valley SBDC Network

Emcee of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Danny Fitzgerald works for Southwestern Community College as the acting regional director for the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network. He also oversees the San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center and is the fiscal agent for the California Women’s Business Center Network. For over 20 years, he has been a prominent fixture in the small business communities of San Diego and Imperial counties. His service in a wide variety of leadership and executive roles has made a significant impact on thousands of businesses and multiple industries throughout the State of California.

Briana Weisinger, Associate Regional Director of the San Diego & Imperial Valley SBDC Network

Emcee of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Briana Weisinger is a changemaker who leads with mindful integrity and dedication to the 50/50 commitment – equal representation of women and men – in leadership, entrepreneurship, and social impact. She has experienced the ups and downs of launching and closing her own business in the education industry and uses this experience in her mission to empower entrepreneurs with a blend of entrepreneurial thinking and change-making spirit, which helps them explore creating a positive social impact while pursuing financial success. Weisinger has worked with hundreds of start-ups and small businesses in every industry to launch and scale their businesses. She has also designed entrepreneurial education programs that have served thousands of individuals.

Cheryl Brown, Director of the North San Diego SBDC Center hosted by MiraCosta College

Emcee of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Cheryl Brown has been involved with the SBDC program since 2007 as a procurement advisor. During that time, she has worked with over 3,500 small businesses helping them to secure over $800 million in government contracts. Her philosophy and driving force are simple: “I help small businesses make a better life for their families and the families they employ”. She has also been intimately involved with the planning and coordination of the San Diego & Imperial Valley SBA Awards Luncheon since 2016 as well as being a reward recipient.

AWARDS PROGRAM

  • Welcome

  • Brief History of the SBA Awards

  • Nomination Criteria

  • Judging Process

  • Financial Services Champion of the Year

  • Minority Small Business Champion of the Year

  • Women in Business Champion of the Year

  • Small Business Journalist of the Year

  • District Director’s Award of SBA Mission Support

  • Anthony Vigil Small Business Advocacy Award

  • Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award

  • Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award

  • Jill Andrews Award for Staying Power

  • Rural Small Business of the Year

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Family-Owned Small Business of the Year

  • Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

  • Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year

  • Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

  • Small Business of the Year

  • Closing Remarks

Get help finding products and services for your business.

Wells Fargo
Get help finding products and services for your small business. Wells Fargo

SMALL BUSINESS INVOLVEMENT

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BizVid Communications

A small business client of the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network, BizVid Communications is the creative mastermind behind our award winner videos. For your next video production needs, please consider www.bizvidcommunications.com.

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Cherry Blossom Floral Designs

The beautiful centerpieces on your tables are provided by a client of the San Diego & Imperial Valley SBDC Network. Cherry Blossom Floral Designs specializes in weddings, corporate events, and unique floral design services. For your next event, please consider cherryblossomfloraldesigns.com.

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Chromchies

Who doesn’t love cookies? Cromchies, another client of the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network and an SBA Award Nominee make amaranth wafer cookies made with only natural ingredients and a twist of fun. They are vegan, sugar-free, and packed with amaranth, a superfood grain. Looking for a cookie that is not only delicious but good for you, please consider www.cromchies.com.

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Fifty Square Feet Productions LLC

What event is not complete with photos to capture the memories of the event? Fifty Square Feet Productions LLC not only captures the moment in time with its photography but also offers services beyond photography. Are you looking for a small business to capture your story, please consider fiftysqft.com.

Fifty Square Feet Productions LLC Logo

GP Awards

For several years, GP Awards have been supplying the awards for the SBA Awards. Their attention to detail and quality is impeccable. They provide awards in various mediums, plaques, display cases, signs, banners, and much more. Please consider GP Awards for your next award, plaque, and/or business gift: gp-awards.com.

Fifty Square Feet Productions LLC Logo

Maio Digital Marketing

Maio Digital Marketing provides strategic digital marketing services for start up companies or small businesses that are looking to grow. With over 20 years of marketing experience, Stefanie Maio has a passion to help people with their marketing needs. If you are looking for marketing services, please consider Maio Digital Marketing.

Power your business today. Explore our banking solutions.

Power your business today. Explore our banking solutions. US Bank

EVENT MASTERMINDS

Event Masterminds of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Amy Champan
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NORTH SAN DIEGO SBDC HOSTED BY MIRACOSTA COLLEGE

Special Thank You
Amy Chapman, Office Coordinator for the North San Diego SBDC Center hosted by MiraCosta College is the person behind the scenes that made this event happen in addition to her fulltime responsibilities as the glue that keeps the North San Diego SBDC Center together. Without her coordination, her communication, and her willingness to go above and beyond, this event would not be possible.
Thank you, Amy.

Event Masterminds of the 2023 San Diego and Imperial SBS and SBDC Awards

Cynthia Harris
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST OF THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

Special Thank You
Cynthia Harris from the San Diego SBA District Office wears many hats. She is the Acting Lender Relations Specialist, Economic Development Specialist/Public Information Officer, and International Trade and Women’s Business Representative. In addition to these responsibilities, she is also the person behind coordinating the nominations, communicating with the nominees and award