ULM’s SBDC and client receive U.S. Small Business Administration awards

Northeast Louisiana represented well at the annual Louisiana Small Business Awards in Baton Rouge on May 4. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at University of Louisiana at Monroe (LSBDC at ULM) was named 2016 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Financial Services Champion, and Direnzic Technology and Consulting, LSBDC at ULM client, was named SBA Minority Business Champion.

SBA District Director Mike Ricks thanked Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Don Pierson for their support of small business, and said although large business is a large economic impact, “we really can’t not recognize the small business owners as well as it’s a key component to the state economy and the nation as well.”

Ricks announced that during 2015 fiscal year the LSBDC at ULM exceeded its capital infusion goal by more than 50 percent.

“The center is making clients more aware of credit history through workshops and how to improve scores and history,” Ricks said. “It seized the opportunity for growth by nurturing bank contacts.”

LSBDC at ULM Center Director Virendra Chhikara said it’s always an honor to represent Northeast Louisiana and ULM and added that the center’s accomplishments are beginning to resemble its vision for this part of the state.

“We strive to educate small business owners in each aspect of their business and push them along to continue to grow and drive the region and state economy,” Chhikara said. “Finance is a major factor in starting and growing a business, so it’s important for us to work with lenders and understand what they need from entrepreneurs so we can better serve our clients.”

ULM Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences Dr. Ronald Berry said, “ULM’s SBDC has played a significant role in the health and vitality of the small business community and our region’s economic development for many years.”

“I offer congratulations to the ULM SBDC team for this recognition and my sincere appreciation for the outstanding work they do every day to improve the success of small businesses,” Dr. Berry said.

Ieshea Jones, founder and owner of Direnzic Technology and Consulting, has pushed the company to three years of gradual growth.

Ricks said she has been developing her cyber security framework solutions for specific process models and added that she was named one of the 2014 Silicon Bayou 100 which recognizes the most influential, innovative and active people for technology and entrepreneurship in Louisiana.

“Direnzics’ focus is a very new concept that most businesses don’t recognize until its too late,” Ricks said.

Jones had no idea she was nominated for the award, let alone the award winner. She said the award came at a time of extreme turmoil for me as a business owner.

“I’d been struggling with recovering from the flood in northeast Louisiana and this award was a welcomed distraction. What a blessing,” Jones said.

“I am honored to have been named this year’s Minority Small Business Champion by the SBA,” Jones said. “As both an African American and woman-owned business in the technology space, I epitomize the very essence of a minority. I understand the struggle, the stress, the concern shared by small business men and women and I’m excited to be able to show and tell my fellow entrepreneurs that ‘You Can Do It! Just keep the faith, don’t give up, it’s tough but worth it.’”

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