A region of quality

For the past several years, the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network (WPSBN) has been highly successful in promoting the small business awards luncheon and selecting the Western Pennsylvania small business award winners.

Jan Lanyon, vice president of SMC Business Councils, chairs the WPSBN and provides expert leadership in guiding it to a stellar performance with the annual awards ceremony.

Ray Becki, public information officer for the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Administration, serves as an adviser to the network and provides expert assistance in establishing a group of judges which understands the caliber of small business nominees necessary to receive national recognition.

The geographical areas represented in the award selection process are the Western Pennsylvania District; the state awards; the regional awards that cover Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia; and the national awards selected from the state winners.

Over the past several years, the WPSBN, the SBA and the panel of judges have keenly identified and recommended highly qualified and successful small business owners and advocates, resulting in recognition beyond the local level. For example, in 1996, Frank Dlubak of Dlubak Corp. was our state Small Businessperson of the Year. Georgia Berner of Berner International Corp. was runner-up to the National Small Businessperson of the Year in 1997. Tilden Bennett and Gary Kiliany of Sentient Systems Technology shared state honors in 1998 with Eliot Fabri of New Era Construction.

Our 1999 state Small Businessperson of the Year was Walter Greenleaf of Greenleaf Corp. James and Joseph DelGrosso of DelGrosso Foods in 2000 and Frank Sarris of Sarris Candy Co. in 2001 were national runners-up.

This sends a strong message to the nation that some of the most successful, well-trained entrepreneurs are located in Western Pennsylvania, and we at the SBA and the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network are very proud of it. Congratulations to our business community in Western Pennsylvania. Al Jones is district director for the Pittsburgh District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.