The owner of Loyal Biscuit Co. has been named as the U.S. Small Business Administration's Maine Small Business Leader of the Year. Six other Maine businesses and a government official were recognized as part of the SBA's annual awards, including two regional honors.
Heidi V. Neal of Rockland-based pet supply chain Loyal Biscuit received the SBA's top award in the state, the SBA announced this week. The honor makes Neal eligible for the SBA's top award, the 2015 National Small Business Person of the Year, which will be announced at a later date. The winner will be recognized in Washington, D.C., in May.
"Competition was extremely keen across the nation for these prestigious awards," Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA's top administrator, said in a prepared statement. "I couldn't be any prouder than recognizing these outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners, they represent the backbone of our economy."
Two Maine businesses were recognized on a regional level.
Evan Carroll and Sasha Salzberg, co-founders of Portland-based BILD Architecture LLC, received SBA's Micro-Enterprise of the Year Award for Maine and New England. In addition, Paula and Stephen Farrar, owners of Charlotte-based Done Roving Yarns, were named as SBA's Home-based Business Champions for Maine and New England.
"Done Roving Yarn won the New England competition because of its staying power, innovativeness and ability to respond to adversity," Seth Goodall, SBA New England regional administrator, said in a prepared statement. "SBA is pleased to have supported this impressive rural business with a guaranteed loan in participation with Camden National Bank."
Ruth Cash-Smith, a business counselor at the Women's Business Center at Coastal Entreprises Inc. (CEI), nominated Done Roving Yarns among other businesses recognized by the SBA.
"Done Roving Yarns was reborn from a business that failed in 2005 due to the aftermath following a freak catastrophic event, which left them faced with staggering medical bills, rebuilding a business and plummeting credit scores," Cash-Smith said in a prepared statement. "The turnaround this business has undergone in the past four years is truly remarkable and the Farrars are ever so deserving of this award."
Kate McAleer of Rockland-based organic chocolate bar maker Bixby & Co. was named as SBA's Young Entrepreneur of the Year. McAleer, who was named to Mainebiz's Next List last year, received $30,000 from Gorham Savings Bank's Launchpad competition and has gone through the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development's Top Gun program and other entrepreneur programs.
"Always on the lookout for opportunities for growth, Kate has steered this ever-growing family-owned company into national distribution in an amazingly short amount of time," Cash-Smith said. "No longer an untried newcomer to the complex and difficult world of wholesale chocolate manufacturing, Bixby & Co. is now ably navigating new waters in terms of determining how best to strategically grow their company, according to their own values and mission."
The SBA recognized four other Maine small business leaders for the following:
• Carl Smith, CEO of Caribou-based Virtual Managed Solutions, for Maine Veteran-Owned Small Business Champion.
• Deborah Gustin, president of Presque Isle-based Pie Nana doing business as Irish Setter Pub, for Maine Women in Business Champion.
• Thomas Adams, owner of York-based Maine Coast Shellfish, for Maine Small Business Exporter of the Year.
• Jaimie Logan, governor's account executive with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, for Financial Services Champion for Maine.
This year's recipients will be recognized at the SBA's annual awards ceremony at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester on May 5.
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