Highlighting the Impact of Houston’s Outstanding Entrepreneurs, Small Business Owners, and Others

HOUSTON – The Houston District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is set to kick-off National Small Business Week, April 29 – May 5, 2018! Join SBA- Houston in celebration, as we recognize outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from all over the 32 counties that the SBA- Houston District Office serves. Participate in a myriad of events, programs, and initiatives, designed by the SBA and its resource partners, to help grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase Houston’s local, national, and global competitiveness.

The local events include:
· April 30 – Virtual Mentoring Lab – Rural Online Counseling
· April 30 – Federal Contracting Basics Webinar
· May 1 – Innovation Week Event – SBIR/STTR Workshop
· May 1-3 – Small Business Week Virtual Conference
· May 2 – Insights into Entrepreneurial Success Workshop
· May 2 – Small Business Expo
· May 2 – Small Business Awards Ceremony Luncheon
· May 3 – Small Business Meetup
· May 4 – HUBZone Set-Aside Program Webinar

As part of National Small Business Week, SBA, SCORE, and co-sponsors from Visa, Chase for Business, Google, Constant Contact, Square, Sales Force, Facebook, Comcast Business, Lockheed Martin, the UPS Store, Raytheon, Thryv, Verizon, the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, and the Main Street Hub will host a free, 3-Day Virtual Conference. The conference will take place Tuesday, May 1 – Thursday, May 3 between 12:30 pm (EDT) – 6:30 pm (EDT) each day. The webinars/webcast is free of charge; however, registration space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis at https://score.6connex.com/event/vc/nsbw/login?lang=en-us&mcc=sba.

Topics covered in the Virtual Conference will include:
· May 1 – How Changing Consumer Behavior Impacts Your Business
· May 1 – Addressing Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace
· May 1 – Get New and Repeat Business On Autopilot with Email Marketing
· May 1 – Creating and Sustaining a Strong Social Presence
· May 2 – The U.S. Economic Outlook and Its Impact on Small Businesses
· May 2 – Managing Your Finances in the Cloud
· May 2 – Grow Your Business in 2018
· May 2 – Simple Steps to Choosing the Right Financing
· May 3 – Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints & Keep Your Customers
· May 3 – Sharing Your Story Through Video
· May 3 – Pop & Play: How Opening a Pop-Up Shop Can Help Launch Your Retail Brand
· May 3 – Fusion Marketing: The Next Generation of Marketing

We’ll also be livestreaming the award ceremonies, including the announcement of the National Small Business Person of the Year. Follow the conversation online using Twitter hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Dr. Srini Neralla the 2018 Houston District Small Business Person of the Year. Dr. Neralla is Founder and CEO of SIA Solutions, LLC with headquarters in Houston, Texas. They are 8(a) certified by the SBA and are a professional services, engineering, and consulting firm. They specialize in program and project solutions in Infrastructure Asset Management, Energy, Environmental Compliance and Remediation, Radiological Services, and Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste (HTRW) Management Services.

“We are proud to recognize Dr. Neralla of SIA Solutions on his selection as the Houston Small Business Person of the Year. As this year’s top entrepreneur in Houston, Dr. Neralla characterizes a strong and creative leader who helps build our communities and create jobs,” said South Central Acting Regional Administrator Dottie Overal, who leads the delivery of SBA programs in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“Dr. Srini Neralla is not only a very successful entrepreneur but he is an exemplary mentor, coach, and leader in his community. His dedication to giving back to the community is very apparent and contributed significantly to his selection. I look forward to honoring his achievement publicly during the Small Business Awards Luncheon on May 2, 2018,” said SBA District Director Timothy Jeffcoat.

This year there were 34 nominees in 9 categories and the District winners in Small Business Person of the Year and Exporter of the Year went on to the SBA Region 6 level to compete for all state. The Champion awards are judged and selected only at the District level. SBA Region 6 includes six districts in Texas along with Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of a National Small Business Week. “My goal is to help more of our nation’s small business owners be aware of the resources available to them through the SBA. We want more entrepreneurs to think of the SBA as the go-to resource for access to capital, valuable resources, business know-how, and the right expertise for each stage of their business lifecycle. That’s how we can continue to help power the engine of our economy,” said Administrator Linda McMahon, head of the SBA.

National Small Business Week is set for the first week in May, and this year the dates are April 29 – May 5, 2018. The Houston Small Business Awards Luncheon, sponsored by SCORE Houston, will be held at the Westin Galleria on May 2, 2018. The event will kick off at 9 a.m. with a workshop before the luncheon. For more information about the event, visit www.houston.score.org or call SCORE at (713) 487-6565.

The complete list of the 2018 Houston District Small Business Award winners:

Small Business Person of the Year
Dr. Srini Neralla
SIA Solutions

Small Business Exporter of the Year
Rakesh K. Jain
RJ Engineering Systems, Inc.

Family-Owned Small Business of the Year
Kirk Michaelis
El Bolillo Bakery

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Joshua Anthony Zapalac
EcoZapp Efficiency

Entrepreneurial Success Award
Jesus Angel Gonzalez Lopez
Tostada Regia Restaurants

Women in Business Champion of the Year
Sandra Janak
Aspire Sales & Electrical Services, LLC

Financial Services Champion of the Year
Aziz Rahim
Wallis State Bank

Veterans Champion of the Year
Gary Henderson Jr.
Allegiance Bank

Minority Small Business Champion of the Year
Johnny Whaley

For more information regarding National Small Business Week, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/nsbw

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