Ive been privileged to observed and evaluate award-winning businesses in other regions of the Small Business Administration, where the competition was keen, and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the award-winning small businesses of western Pennsylvania are second to none.
There were more than 60 nominees in the 1999 SBA Small Business Awards categories, and all could have placed first or second in all other regions. To choose the best from among the best is not an easy task. I commend all of the judges for their excellent work in selecting the award winners for this year.
Special thanks is extended to the smart working sponsors who produced two national winners, six regional winners, 10 state winners and 14 western Pennsylvania winners. Included among the national winners is Dalph McNeil, recipient of the Phoenix Award for Disaster Recovery, who brought his company back from a devastating national disaster to a financially sound operation without loss of jobs.
Enough cannot be said about the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network, which starts preparing a year in advance and demonstrates the highest degree of teamwork to assemble in all its splendor the finest annual small business awards luncheon, sponsors and winners anywhere.
How do you give sufficient thanks to our resource partners and advisory council members who graciously provide help and counsel to the Pittsburgh office and SBA every year. Because of its efforts, SBA reached a record-level year in marketing and outreach that generated 604 guaranteed loans worth $77,032,717 for the small business community.
In addition, the staff at the Western Pennsylvania SBA office was presented the Best of the Best Special Achievement Award for four major categories, including Economic Development Tour 1998; the Lenders Internship Program; Lenders Quality Circle conference at Seven Springs Ski Resort; and the Small Business Awards luncheon, which has become the finest of its kind.
Finally, thanks to our media resource partners who have played a major role in putting a face on SBA in western Pennsylvania. We are serious about service.
Al Jones is district director for the SBA.