SBA Administrator wraps up National Small Business Week in California

U.S. Small Business Association Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet celebrated National Small Business Week in California, recognizing TMC Financing and Working Solutions’ clients at stops in San Jose and Oakland on Friday, May 6.

Contreras-Sweet, a member of President Obama’s cabinet and the head of all SBA programs, opened the 5th Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation as part of National Small Business Week: Celebrating the American Dream in a Diverse Community. Two TMC small business clients, Andrew Ly, co-owner of Sugar Bowl Bakery and Maria Castellon, co-owner of Bench-Tek Solutions, joined her on stage for the keynote address, which highlighted the role of New American entrepreneurs.

Andrew Ly & Maria Castellon
Andrew Ly & Maria Castellon

Ly arrived, along with his four brothers, in San Francisco’s Tenderloin from Vietnam in 1979. Knowing no English, the boys took whatever jobs could be found. Four years later, with family savings, they bought a donut shop that was going out of business in the Richmond. Today, Sugar Bowl Bakery employs 386 people and their well-known brownie bites are sold around the world.

Castellon is a U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico. She attended Mission City College and San Jose City College where she studied business and accounting, then worked in the manufacturing industry for 13 years, starting as an office manager and quickly rising to senior sales representative. In 2003, she started Bench-Tek Solutions with her brother, Jorge. Bench-Tek designs, manufactures, assembles and installs custom workbenches, carts and racks in Santa Clara for use in production, electrostatic discharge and clean-room environments for clients like PG&E, Tesla Motors, Google, Motorola, Apple, Humboldt State University, Go Pro and others.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

Mayor Sam Liccardo also addressed the crowd, advocating for the protection and growth of small businesses, saying more than 51 percent of small businesses in San Jose are from immigrants, mainly Hispanic and Vietnamese. San Jose has become the 10th largest economy in the U.S., and has 7,500 small businesses. According to Contreras-Sweet, 40% of Fortune 500 CEOs are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Nationally, small businesses have seen a record-breaking 74 consecutive months of job growth and creation and contribute more than 47 precent of the national GDP.

Barbara Morrison with Maria Contreras-Sweet
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet with TMC Founder Barbara Morrison

At noon, the Administrator honored Working Solutions’ client Nona Lim with the Emerging Business of the Year Award at the Healthy Business, Healthy Communities! Reception. Lim, grew up in Singapore, surrounded by a thriving and diverse food culture. When she and her husband moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, Lim started a food-based Detox business, delivering healthy and delicious food to fit active lifestyles. The hand-prepared meals quickly drew a circle of loyal clients, who began asking for further healthy choices once they had completed the detox program. Lim answered with a line of made-by-hand soups, that without the common short cuts of stock or bouillon, are naturally low in sodium and nutrient-dense. As demand continued to grow, Lim added new and innovative noodle products and expanded to sell in retail stores nationwide.

Lim also received a congressional proclamation from Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Nona Lim receiving congressional proclamation
Working Solutions client Nona Lim receiving congressional proclamation from Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Also as part of National Small Business Week, TMC client Brad Burdsall visited Washington, D.C. as Nevada’s Small Business Person of the Year.