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SBA award winners reflect experience and expertise combined with boldness and fresh perspectives

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By Jenna Frazier

San Diego County’s small business owners and advocates received recognition at the June 2 Small Business Awards Luncheon at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley. Keynote speaker was Jim Hammersley, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Five business owners will receive SBA awards in five categories.
“As America celebrates 57 years of SBA’s existence, this is an excellent opportunity to honor the small businesses that have helped make our nation great,” said SBA San Diego District Director Ruben Garcia.
Nominated by business organizations, chambers of commerce and trade associations, the candidates are reviewed by a local panel that selects winners in various categories. Nominees are then sent to the regional office in Los Angeles for judging, and finally submitted for national consideration.
The 2010 SBA winners reflect experience and expertise combined with boldness and fresh perspectives. Their dedication to providing high-quality products and services has led to personal success and inspiration for other ventures.
Award Winners
Thomas M. McGowan, president and founder of McGowan Enterprises, will receive the Veteran-Owned Business of the Year award for providing efficient pharmaceutical products and services to hospitals, home infusion providers, clinics and independent compounding pharmacies nationwide through Acute Care Pharmaceuticals.
With over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry, McGowan received his initial training as a Navy Medical Corpsmen in 1972. Notable contributions include customized cardiac, anaphylactic and trauma kits — known as CAT Kits — as well as an innovative line of disposable clean room supplies.
Rachel Welland, owner and coordinator of Bliss Events and recipient of Women-Owned Business of the Year, realized her passion for event planning when she organized her fourth grade school pajama party. She now presides as one of San Diego’s premier specialists for fairytale weddings in addition to dazzling private affairs, nonprofit galas and memorable occasions that range from birthdays and graduations to anniversaries and engagement parties.
With a focus on stylish details and personal touches, Bliss Events promises to take care of the small stuff so clients can enjoy “life’s biggest moments.”

Cheryl A. Protzeller, founder of the human resources agency P2 Solutions Inc. will collect the Women in Business Champion of the Year award for her dedication to assisting fledgling businesses with hiring, employment laws, government contracting, business certification, marketing and social media networking and other startup hurdles.
Married to a U.S. Marine currently deployed to Afghanistan and mother to a 6-year-old and two teenaged stepchildren, Protzeller focuses on counseling mothers and dependent military personnel through a monthly workshop at Camp Pendleton. P2 Solutions has helped at least seven small businesses bring inspiration to fruition since her company’s start in 2007.

La Sonja I. Boulware, Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, started BizNess Variety in 1989 to help students and professionals creatively market their talents, skills and services through tactics that increase visibility and competitiveness.
Services include resumes, computer instruction, portfolios, contracts and more. Raised in Sacramento, Boulware has adopted a strong sense of community through regularly donating blood and bone marrow, volunteering, and working as a member of Black Advocates in State Service and the Association of Black Correctional Workers.

Jeannette Carrico, founder and CEO of The Exit Light Co., received the Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Winners of the 2010 George P. Chandler Jr. Award and SBA Lender Awards and the SBA Community Service Award were announced at the luncheon. Additionally, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized outstanding San Diego area businesses; local government procuring agencies recognized their Contractors of the Year; San Diego are large prime contractors recognized their small business Subcontractors of the Year; and the San Diego Business Improvement District Council recognized its BID Business of the Year.

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