By Cathy Mckitrick | The Salt Lake Tribune
A new award titled "Champions of Collaboration" will be given to eight Utah small business advocates this May in recognition of their joint efforts to expand opportunities for entreprenuerial development, training and counseling.
The honor is one of several being bestowed by the Utah District of the U.S. Small Business Administration at a May 14 luncheon in Salt Lake City. However, this group is also being singled out for national recognition as well.
"Its a brand new award and the agency is just really looking for some outstanding collaborative partnerships, resources that are really working together in the best interests of small businesses," said Stan Nakano, director for Utah’s SBA office.
Utah’s champions of collaboration include:
Ron Tucker • Chapter Chairman, Salt Lake SCORE
Arnold Brown • Chapter Chairman, Central Utah SCORE
Pamela Okumura-Gerrard • Program Director, Women’s Business Center
Brent Meikle • Director, Kaysville’s Small Business Development Center
Carlos Linares • Director, Salt Lake City’s Small Business Development Center
Jason Yerka • Director, Logan’s Small Business Development Center
Beverly King • Director, Ogden’s Small Business Development Center
Ken Fakler • Director, Orem’s Small Business Development Center
These resource partners, who will also be honored during the May 20-22 National Small Business Week Ceremony in Washington D.C., played active roles in fostering a networking and education program called Entrepreneur Launch Pad (ELP).
ELP began in early 2009 with three frustrated job-seekers — laid off from middle management positions — who conferred during a Workforce Center workshop in Centerville. They concluded that their best option would be to create their own jobs by starting small businesses.
From there, the trio began meeting weekly with other job-seekers who shared similar aspirations.
Meikle was among the early presenters to this growing group of budding entrepreneurs who met at the Northfront Business Resource Center in Kaysville. Soon ELP expanded with meetings at other Wasatch Front locations, including the Miller Business Resource Center in Sandy.
Now three years in, Utah’s SBA office reports that over 800 people have attended ELP sessions at six locations, bolstered by support from five SBDC branches, two SCORE chapters and the Women’s Business Center.
ELP is run solely by volunteers and participants pay nothing to attend and glean guidance from the meetings.