The contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners to the U.S. economy will be celebrated during National Small Business Week, which runs from May 12 to 16, 2014.
The annual recognition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will conclude with the naming of the National Small Business Person of the Year during a ceremony in the nation’s capital. Winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico are competing for the top honor.
The national finalists include an array of business owners from architects to woodworkers. Florida’s Small Business Person of the Year winner is Amir A. Varshovi, president of GreenTechnologies in Gainesville.
Varshovi developed a nutrient recycling process that transforms sewage from a wastewater treatment plant into an organic fertilizer sold under the name GreenEdge. According to the company’s website, the fertilizer is an effective replacement for synthetic fertilizers, which can cause environmental damage.
“Even though it’s an award specifically for me, it really is an award for our company and the whole GreenEdge team,” Varshovi told The Gainesville Sun. “I haven’t done that all by myself.”
At the other end of the country, North Dakota’s Small Business Person of the Year award went to Dean Atchison, owner and chief executive officer of Fargo-based Spectrum Aeromed. The company designs and manufactures medical and ambulance equipment for planes and helicopters, including military, government and hospital aircraft.
In a blog post on his company’s website, Atchison credited Spectrum Aeromed’s success to its “dedicated employees.”
“It’s great to not only represent our state and the company but also manufacturers and the aerospace industry,” he said.
National Small Business Week began in 1963 and is renewed annually by presidential proclamation. Events are held nationwide, including panel discussions, networking sessions and webinars. According to the SBA, more than 50% of Americans work for or own a small business.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed creation of the Small Business Administration in 1953, combining the remnants of earlier government agencies established to help small businesses during the Great Depression and World War II. Over the next six decades, the SBA expanded its mission to include providing specialized services to minorities, women and military veterans, as well as management advice and disaster relief loans. In fiscal year 2013, the federal agency reported supporting $29 billion in loans.
“The SBA ensures that America’s small businesses have the access and opportunities they need to start and grow their operations and create new jobs,” then-Acting Administrator Jeanne Hulit said in December 2013.