Louisiana Small Business Development Center Greater New Orleans Region (LSBDC GNOR) has been named the top Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in the nation, earning the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award. The U.S. SBA will present the award to Center Director Carmen Sunda during a private ceremony held in conjunction with National Small Business Week in Washington, DC, June 17 to 21.
U.S. SBA Regional Administrator Yolanda Olivarez and Louisiana Economic Development Assistant Secretary Jason El Koubi, recognized Sunda and the GNOR team for its accomplishments last night during the Small Business Awards reception held at the Governor’s Mansion. The SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award is given annually to the SBDC program that demonstrates excellence in providing value to small businesses and advancing program delivery and management through innovation. LSBDC GNOR was selected from approximately 1,000 centers across the nation to receive the coveted award. Sunda proclaims that her Center’s ultimate goal is to help small businesses expand, rebuild and recover. “My team and I are honored and humbled to receive this recognition”, she said. “We think of ourselves as the ‘boots on the street’. We just roll up our sleeves and try to do what needs to be done.” The award comes as the LSBDC network celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee praised Sunda and her team. “I applaud the Greater New Orleans’ Louisiana Small Business Development Center for being selected as the number one SBDC in the country. Carmen Sunda, the Center Director, has worked hard to ensure that locally owned and operated firms are able to prosper in today’s fast paced global market,” said Senator Landrieu. “She deserves the 2013 SBDC Service Excellence and Innovation award. I look forward to working with Carmen, the Greater New Orleans’ LSBDC, and SBDCs around the country to ensure that small businesses are given the capital, counseling, contracting, and trade tools they need to succeed.”
LSBDC GNOR is a collaborative partnership of Loyola University New Orleans, Delgado Community College, Southern University at New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana. Through this partnership, LSBDC GNOR has been able to expand its reach throughout Greater New Orleans and beyond. William Locander, dean of the Loyola College of Business, applauded the Center for its accomplishment. “Under Carmen’s leadership and through all their hard work, the LSBDC Greater New Orleans Region certainly merits recognition at this level. I am particularly proud that they are aligned with Loyola and the College of Business.”
The Center was nominated by the state and won at the regional level before winning the national award. The evaluation criteria included performance milestones, innovative programs, professional development and advocacy. “Carmen is a tireless leader. She has an outstanding center that has grown and evolved into a program that should be emulated by many,” said Mary Lynn Wilkerson, LSBDC State Director. “Receiving this award is a testament to the hard work, dedication and resiliency of the LSBDC and GNOR staff. I am extremely proud of Carmen and her team.”
Under the leadership of Sunda, the Center has achieved unparalleled success by creating innovative programs, assembling a team of dynamic business consultants and cultivating key partnerships among local business and community leaders. “She has done a great job of developing programs and building key relationships,” said Wilkerson. Recognized entrepreneurial programs include a partnership with Capital One who sponsors Getting Down to Business, Second Look and Straight Talk.
With a keen focus on access to capital, consultants are skilled at identifying sources of financing, restructuring debt, and assisting business owners in developing efficient operational strategies. Kristen Preau, owner of Cook Me Something Mister knows firsthand the benefits of working with the LSBDC. ”My lenders told me I had the best loan package they’d ever received,” she said. Preau, also known as the Jambalaya Girl, has been an LSBDC client for three years and credits the Center for her success. “I look at Carmen and the rest of the staff as my business mentors. I truly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the resources that they offer.”
Sunda and her team have demonstrated their commitment to building sustainable small businesses in GNOR by devising new ways to provide services and training related to accessing capital, sales growth and revenue diversification, using the latest technology to increase profits, and forming strategic alliances with public, private and government entities to leverage resources.
LSBDC GNOR has become a small business expert in disaster response and preparedness and is heralded as the regional “go-to” organization for disaster recovery. “It has been a really tough, yet exciting time. Over the last eight years we have diligently responded to businesses impacted by six hurricanes and an oil spill, while at the same time assisting small businesses in creating an entrepreneurial renaissance,” said Sunda. Within the last year alone, Sunda and her team have consulted with various organizations at the national and international level to share best practices of disaster response and recovery.
Since joining the LSBDC in 2003, Sunda and her team have served 9,501 clients and trained 18,527 individuals. The team helped clients create 2,113 jobs and save 3,599, secure $123 million in capital, start 340 new businesses and increase sales by $477 million.
In addition to Sunda, other staff members recognized by the award are; Wayne Aucoin, Tatiana Clay, Michael P. Cusack, Mike Durette, Christian Shane Galvin, Jerre Madere, Sandy Ha Nguyen, Thoai Nguyen, Albert Overman, Mike Pennison, Dianne F. Sclafani, Allen Villarrubia and Erik D. Waters.
LSBDC GNOR serves the seven-parish region of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, and St. John the Baptist.
Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. SBA takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories.
For more information, please visit http://www.lsbdc.org.