Categorized | Breaking News

SBA to honor Hispanic businesses

Hispanic-owned small businesses from Alaska, Florida, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Texas will be honored during National Small Business Week, an annual event organized and hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the contribution of small businesses to job creation and the recovery of the nation’s economy.

This year, National Small Business Week will be held May 18-20, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. The theme of the event is “Empowering Entrepreneurs”.

“Small businesses drive job creation and economic growth across the nation, and the growing contribution of Hispanic-owned businesses is well documented,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “We are pleased to honor these businesses that are playing a powerful role in strengthening their communities and our economy as a whole.”

According to the Census Bureau, in the United Sates there are more than 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses; they employ more than 1.5 million people and generate more than $220 billion in gross receipts.

The Hispanic award winners at National Small Business Week are:

  • Region X Prime Contractor of the Year – Lewie D. Silva, owner, L&M Services, Petersburg, AK. Mr. Silva decided to go into business for himself after he left his employment as a janitor at the GSA-operated Petersburg Federal Building. Certified as a HUB-Zone small business, L&M obtained a contract to provide maintenance and custodial services to the very building where he used to work. Thanks to their excellent reputation, Lewie and his company have been a critical resource to GSA’s clients in its Petersburg Federal Building.

Florida Small Business Person of the Year – Jose A. Lopez, president, Marketing Arm International Inc., Port Charlotte, Fl. Born to a very humble family in El Cibao, Dominican Republic, Lopez obtained an agronomy degree in his native Dominican Republic in 1966, and a bachelor’s degree in entomology from Texas A&M University in 1970. In 1993, Lopez founded Marketing Arm International, Inc. as a green company that develops and markets safe, eco-friendly agricultural products.

  • New Jersey Small Business Person of the Year – Jose L. Rodriguez, president & CEO, M.E.R.I.T., Inc., Newark, NJ. A retired police detective and captain with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and disabled veteran, “Joe” Rodriguez launched M.E.R.I.T and shortly thereafter obtained SBA 8(a) certification. M.E.R.I.T. provides his customers with construction, project and facility management among many other services.
  • Puerto Rico Small Business Person of the Year – Mariely Diaz, president, Optima Infusion Pharmacy, Inc. Bayamon, PR.  After earning her degree in Pharmaceutical Science in 2002, Ms. Díaz received a doctoral degree two years later and founded Optima Infusion Pharmacy, Inc. in 2006. With the help of an SBA 504 loan, she was able to take her business to the next level and today Optima generates $10.5 million in annual sales.
  • Texas Small Business Persons of the Year – Michael L. and Lisa M. Lujan, co-owners, Mentoring Minds, Tyler, TX. With a common passion for education, Michael and Lisa founded Mentoring Minds in 2002 with the mission of developing affordable, effective learning tools to help children succeed in life. Mentoring Minds ranks 344th in Hispanic Business Magazine’s 2010 list of largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S.

Also to be recognized during National Business Week is The University of Texas – Pan American Small Business Development Center, Edinburg, Texas, most of whose team members are Hispanic.

For additional details on Small Business Week 2011, including information on all award winners, visit

Once the festivities begin, the public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video  on the Web at

Leave a Reply