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3 area businesses among Small Business Association’s 2024 round of awards

Two Berks County businesses and a Montgomery County firm are being honored in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) annual round of Small Business Week Awards.

Eastern Pennsylvania’s Small Business Awards winners are selected by the SBA’s eastern Pennsylvania district office.

Nominees are chosen from across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. The local awards are part of the SBA’s annual celebration of National Small Business Week, taking place April 28 to May 4.

Super Natural Produce

Super Natural Produce, Reading, was awarded Eastern Pennsylvania District Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year, and was nominated by James Buerger, senior vice president of Community First Fund, Lancaster.

The grocery store was opened in 2015 by owner and president Leopoldo Sanchez.

Sanchez renovated a vacant and blighted property at 1350 N. 12th St. into the store’s Reading location, according to Community First Fund’s website.

Sanchez’s goal was to provide for areas of Reading that lacked access to healthy, fresh food, Community First Fund said.

Super Natural Produce offers foods native to the Caribbean and Central America, and employs 20.

Sanchez owns two stores: one in Reading and another in Scranton.

In summer of 2022, Sanchez announced that after a pandemic-related delay, plans were back underway to convert a 40,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance garage at North Fourth and Elm streets in Reading into a grocery store, produce warehouse, café and tortilla factory.

Sarai Variety Flower Shop

Sarai Variety Flower Shop, Reading, won this year’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year award. Sarai was nominated by Alba Fernandez, senior vice president of Community First Fund.

Sarai brands itself as Reading’s first Latina-owned florist.

Owner Lourdes Peralta opened the flower shop in 2015 after spending 20 years as a floral designer in New York.

“Specializing in services for quinceañeras, weddings, and more, we celebrate vibrant Hispanic culture and cater to diverse communities with our unique floral designs and event planning expertise,” Sarai’s website says.

The store offers custom floral arrangements, event decorations, comprehensive floral subscriptions and gift services, same-day delivery and personalized consultations, according to the website.

Phoenix Language Services

The SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Entrepreneurial Success of the Year award went to Phoenix Language Services of Whitpain Township, Montgomery County, nominated by Eliot Gilkeson, program coordinator at the Women’s Business Enterprise Center East.

Headed by J. Nicole Martin Lawson, president and chief executive officer, Phoenix provides interpreters and translators for clients across a variety of settings, such as medical, legal, educational and social services, according to its website.

The company has been operating since 1993 and serves the greater Philadelphia area.

Phoenix partners with its clients to provide comprehensive language access services for limited-English proficient, deaf and hard of hearing populations, according to the website.

Other winners

Other Eastern Pennsylvania District Small Business Week Award winners are as follows:

Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year: Dorothea Spencer, president/CEO, D. Gillette Industrial Services, Easton, Northampton County; nominated by Dr. John Johnson, president and chief executive officer at MBDM.

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award: Bucknell University Small Business Development Center, Lewisburg, Union County; Director Steven Stumbris; nominated by Dr. Ernie Post, state director, Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers Network.

Pennsylvania District Family-Owned Small Business of the Year: Pine Creek Seed Farm, Jersey Shore, Lycoming County; Owner and President Chris McCracken; nominated by Martin Brill, coordinator, Ag Center of Excellence, Penn State University Small Business Development Center, and Tim Keohane, director, Penn State University Small Business Development Center.

Eastern Pennsylvania District Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Painterland Sisters, Westfield, Tioga County; Co-Founder Hayley Painter; nominated by Colleen LaCoss, director of certification and business development, Women’s Business Enterprise Center East.

“We celebrate National Small Business Week to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. We applaud the achievements of small businesses and the organizations that assist them,” said SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Director Steven Dixel. “Each business is exceptional and deserving of recognition as they have grown their business, created jobs, demonstrated resilience, ingenuity, and creativity; and contributed to the growth of their local communities and the economy.”

Additional recognition and educational events throughout the SBA’s 68 district offices are planned for May.

Source: Berkshire mont

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