CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) and Small Business Administration (SBA) WV District Office officials celebrated 2023 Small Business Week Award winners on May 3 at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont, WV.
“National Small Business Week gives SBA the platform to highlight and brag on the nation’s 33.2 million small businesses. Not only are they the backbone of our economy, creating two thirds of net new jobs, but they are also the heart and soul, supporting the communities and making them a more vibrant place to live and work.” said Karen Friel, West Virginia District Director of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
From left to right: Karen Friel, SBA WV District Director of the SBA, Doug Kreinik of Kreinik Mfg Co Inc., Anne and Joe Perella of A & J Sewing Studio LLC, Angie Cowger of Custard Stand Chili (CSC), and Anthony and Heather Wheeler of Paris Signs
“I may be a little biased, but I think the Mountain State has the best small businesses in the nation. The four West Virginia small businesses we recognized this year for Small Business Week have been through one of the toughest eras with a national pandemic, and they came out stronger and better than ever. We try not to use the word “pivot,” but that is exactly what they did and I look forward to seeing their future success.” Friel said.
After accepting their honors, many of the winners expressed their appreciation for WV SBDC business coaches that contributed to their success.
“Winning this award was validation,” said Anthony and Heather Wheeler of Paris Signs. “Working with Doug [Harper], he’s the guy that if I have a good day, I can call him at 11 o’clock at night, or if I’m down and I have so many things going on and I need a sounding board, he’ll make a drive all the way to my shop.”
“It’s immense,” said Wheeler of WV SBDC support. “The best part about working with the SBDC is the comradery between us and the want they have for our success.”
“It’s exciting to be able to be recognized and to represent small businesses, particularly those who are veteran owned,” said Anne Perella of A & J Sewing Studio LLC. “ Frank [Goldsbrough] and Sharon [Stratton] have been a great resource because they have been in our position, they know other people who are in our position, and they can guide us in the right direction,” said Perella of their SBDC business coaches.
Anne and Joe Perella of A & J Sewing Studio LLC with their WV SBDC Business Coaches Frank Goldsborough and Sharon Stratton
Award recipients are listed below.
2023 West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year Award
Anthony and Heather Wheeler of Paris Signs in Huntington – Nominated by: Doug Harper, SBDC
Small Business Exporter of the Year
Doug Kreinik of Kreinik Mfg Co Inc. in Parkersburg – Nominated by: Marsa Myers, SBDC
Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year
Angie Cowger of Custard Stand Chili (CSC)/The Custard Stand (TCS) in Webster Springs – Nominated by: Crystal Dempsey, From the Hip Communications
Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year
Anne Perella of A & J Sewing Studio LLC in Morgantown – Nominated by: Sharon Stratton & Frank Goldsborough, SBDC
“We are so proud of these four award winners and honored to be a part in recognizing their hard work and dedication. Small businesses are an integral part of West Virginia’s economy and make up approximately half of all the companies and jobs in the state. The Small Business Awards is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the impact of these great businesses and celebrate their success.” said Steve Johnson, State Director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center
Small Business Week winners with Mac Warner, WV Secretary of State and Karen Friel, SBA WV District Director of the SBA
WV SBDC is an accredited member of America’s SBDC, a federal partner with the SBA, and a division of the WV Department of Economic Development.
WV SBDC business coaches have professional certifications ranging from exporting, innovation, technology and economic development, to finance, management, marketing and entrepreneurship.
For more information about WV SBDC services and WV SBDC coaches, visit wvsbdc.com.