The Coast was well represented when the Small Business Administration announced the Small Business Champions and top lenders for 2017.
Mary Jennifer Russell, president and founder of Sugaree’s Bakery in New Albany, is this year’s Mississippi Small Business Person of the Year. The bakery has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Southern Living and the New York Times for its cakes, and now sells 1,000 cakes weekly for retail, wholesale and online, and for fundraising, said Janita Stewart, SBA Mississippi District director.
Winners from South Mississippi:
▪ Keith Delcambre at Bozo’s Grocery in Pascagoula for Generational Family-Owned Business
▪ Vickie Rivers at Renaissance Community Loan Fund in Gulfport for Financial Services Champion
▪ Louis Finkle, Ph.D., at Gaston Point Community Development Corporation, Gulfport, for Minority Small Business Champion
The winners will be honored in May during National Small Business Week. Also at that time, two people who have worked for decades to enhance small business, economic development and jobs creation in Mississippi will be presented with lifetime achievement awards.
Among the lender awards for 2017 are Community Bank of Mississippi, top loan volume and top dollar lender; Live Oak Banking, first runner-up dollar lender; Trustmark National Bank, second runner-up loan volume lender; BankPlus, third runner-up dollar lender and honorable mention volume lender; First Financial Bank, second runner-up loan volume lender and honorable mention dollar lender; The Peoples Bank, second runner-up dollar lender and third runner-up loan volume lender; Six Bridges Capital Corp., top dollar certified development company; and Metropolitan Bank, top dollar third-party lender on CDC projects.
Stewart said SBA lending during fiscal year 2016 was up about 6 percent, “significant for small businesses in our state.” That could not happen without the banks and lending partners, she said.