Ford named W.Va. Small Business Champion of the Year
WEIRTON — A local economic development official is among those set to be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, has been selected as the 2017 West Virginia Small Business Champion of the Year. The award was announced March 16, along with several district-level recognitions and 54 state small business persons of the year.
SBA District Director Karen Friel explained the award for Small Business Champion receives more nominations than any other category
“We have found no better person this year than Pat,” Friel said. “He has done so much to support small business.”
Ford was nominated by Ed Powell of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.
“In the 20 years I’ve been in this business, I’ve gotten the most satisfaction from working with small businesses,” Ford said.
He explained small businesses often have the best opportunity for growth, and usually are the ones who work to find ways to give back to their communities the most.
Ford said he takes the award as an indication the BDC is doing its job, attracting new businesses to the region and assisting small businesses to grow, noting he and others with the organization work to use the tools at their disposal to fight on behalf of businesses who come to them.
“We’re going to fight for that business, and, at the end of the day, we’re going to win,” Ford said.
The BDC couldn’t do it alone, Ford noted, expressing appreciation to the partnerships the BDC has built throughout the state and nation.
“Our resources are our collaborators,” he said.
In West Virginia, Matthew Paul Knott, president and chief executive officer of River Riders Inc. and Clarion Inn Harpers Ferry, was selected as the state Small Business Person of the Year.
Other district winners include Leah Heimbach of Healthcare Management Solutions, Graduate of the Year; Justin Seibert of Direct Online Marketing, Small Business Exporter of the Year; Donald Riggenbach of Riggenbach Tile and Carpet, Family-Owned Small Business of the Year; Chin Orih of Corporate Cleaning Services, Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year; Elizabeth Yeager Cross, of Yeager Design and Interiors, Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year; Chad Ranson and John Roberts of Ranson Inspection Services, Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year; Delaina Kucish of Our Country Corner, Encore Entrepreneur of the Year; and Dakota Janowitz of DJ’s Firewood, Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
“We have an outstanding group of small business owners that represent our state,” Friel said. “I look forward to meeting with each of them in the next couple weeks and celebrating their success during National Small Business Week.
Since 1963, an annual presidential proclamation has called for the celebration of National Small Business Week — this year set to be observed April 30 to May 6 — with national events planned in Washington, D.C., New York, Indianapolis, Dallas and Fresno.
West Virginia’s award recipients will be celebrated during an invitation-only luncheon in Fairmont on May 3.