KUTZTOWN, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) were honored to welcome Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to Berks County on Thursday, where he heard firsthand accounts of pandemic-relief programs helping small businesses to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Madrid spoke to representatives of Pennsylvania SBDC’s 16 statewide centers during a meeting on the campus of Kutztown University, which houses the organization’s lead office. Madrid, the former CEO of the Latino Business Action Network, praised SBDC’s work during the difficult business environment and touted President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Also speaking at the event were Charles “Tee” Rowe, President and CEO of America’s SBDC, and Dave Patti, PASBDC Advisory Board Chair and Vice President of Marketing at Customers Bank.
The Pennsylvania SBDC also celebrated a significant recent accomplishment at the event: being awarded full accreditation without conditions from the Association of Small Business Development Centers.
Bookending Madrid’s stop at Kutztown University were visits to two Pennsylvania SBDC client success stories.
In the morning, he spent time at Radius Corp. in Kutztown. The consumer-goods maker, a second-generation family-owned business, benefited from SBA loans and technical assistance before and during the pandemic. In 2020, SBA named Radius the Eastern PA Exporter of the Year. The oral-care product maker recently moved into the historic Kutztown Silk Corp. building to help meet the growing demand for its products, which are now sold in Walmart stores.
Also visiting Radius were Sonya Smith, Associate State Director of Programs and Policy at the Pennsylvania SBDC; Martin Brill, Pennsylvania SBDC Business Agriculture Consultant/Mentor; Kelly Hunt, Director for the SBA Pittsburgh District Office; Angel Marschik, Supervisory Lender Relations Specialist at the SBA; Steven Dixel, District Director for the SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office; and Michael T. Kane, Deputy Director for the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office.
In the afternoon, Madrid, Smith, Dixel, Kane and Josephina Encarnacion, director of the Kutztown University Latino Business Resource Center, stopped by Mi Casa Su Casa in downtown Reading. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, owner of the café and a Reading City Councilwoman, received support from the Kutztown SBDC and assistance from the SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund, allowing her to remain open through difficult business environments.
“The Pennsylvania SBDC network was honored to host Mark Madrid to celebrate the recognition of numerous leaders in our network for exemplary leadership of their program area during COVID,” said Ernie Post, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC. “Mr. Madrid was able to make remarks to our PASBDC leadership team in person and to our entire network of consultants. His personal understanding of what challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs face in the wake of COVID demonstrate that we have a very capable and experienced leader of our national SBA entrepreneurial technical assistance programs. His remarks to our team were inspirational and visionary.
“As small business needs and markets change, the SBDC program will change to position our team of business advisors, mentors, and consultants to be able to meet the emerging needs of our Commonwealth entrepreneurs.”