Business Development Centers Earn National and Regional Awards

WBC and SBDC directors celebrate regional and national recognitions. L-R Congressman Juan Vargas, SWC Superintendent/President Dr. Mark Sanchez, WBC Director Katty Ibarra, SBDC Network Director Daniel Fitzgerald, SBA Director Ruben Garcia and SWC Assistant Vice President Chris Perri.

As National Small Business Week wraps up, the San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center and San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center Network celebrated their recent national and regional awards for excellence.

At a news conference Friday, Women’s Business Center (WBC) Director Katty Ibarra showed off the crystal award she received at the White House last week. Ibarra and the Center were recognized as the national Women’s Business Center of Excellence.

“I work with a team who use their heart and soul to help women succeed,” Ibarra said.

In the five short years, Ibarra and her team have specialized in helping Spanish-speaking women start and grow their in-home child care businesses. In total, over the last three years the WBC has provided assistance via counseling and training to 3,138 businesses, helped 160 new businesses start and helped 294 businesses access capital to grow their businesses.

“Katty has built the program to now be a leader in helping women entrepreneurs start businesses and help women business owners improve their confidence and entrepreneurial mindset,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, director of the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network.

Fitzgerald and his team also celebrated their recognition as the western region (Region IX) Small Business Development Center of Excellence and Innovation.

Rep. Juan Vargas attended the news conference to congratulate Ibarra and Fitzgerald.

“There are more Americans starting businesses than ever before,” Vargas said. “Small businesses make money for our country because of all the hard work of the people who are here.”

Congressman Juan Vargars and WBC Director Katty Ibarra
Congressman Juan Vargas presents WBC Director Katty Ibarra a special certificate of recognition for the center’s recent naming as the national Women’s Business Center of Excellence.

The San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network was recognized as the Center of Excellence and Innovation for the four-state region of California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. Over the last three years it has assisted 12,859 businesses, supported the start up of 707 new businesses, helped businesses obtain $343 million in government contracts and access $1.41 billion in capital.

“We are helping business owners achieve the generational wealth they didn’t have in their lives,” Fitzgerald said.

Congressman Juan Vargas and SBDC Director Daniel Fitzgerald
Congressman Juan Vargas presents SBDC Network Director a special certificate in recognition of the network’s recent recognition as a center of excellence and innovation.

Dr. Mark Sanchez, superintendent/president of Southwestern College, where the WBC, SBDC and the Apex Accelerator are housed, expressed pride and admiration for the work of the business developers.

“It is part of Southwestern College’s mission to support and grow our local economy,” Sanchez said. “The recognition being received by the SBDC and WBC is well deserved.”