April 9, 2015, Wiscasset, Maine–Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced today this year’s Small Business Person of the Year winners from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Heidi V. Neal, Owner of the Loyal Biscuit Co. of Rockland, Camden, Belfast, and Waterville, Maine, was nominated by CEI and named Small Business Person of the Year for Maine. A panel is currently reviewing all the packages and a national winner and two runners-up will be selected and announced at a future date. The national winner will be recognized as the 2015 National Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration this year in Washington, D.C., May 8.
The SBA also named Kate McAleer, CEO & Co-Owner of Bixby & Co., LLC as Maine’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Paula and Stephen Farrar, Owners of Done Roving Yarns, as Home-Based Business Champions for Maine and New England. The three business owners were also nominated by CEI.
“Done Roving Yarn won the New England competition because of its staying power, innovativeness and ability to respond to adversity,” said Seth Goodall, SBA New England Regional Administrator in a press release. “SBA is pleased to have supported this impressive rural business with a guaranteed loan in participation with Camden National Bank.”
“Done Roving Yarns was reborn from a business that failed in 2005 due to the aftermath following a freak catastrophic event, which left them faced with staggering medical bills, rebuilding a business and plummeting credit scores,” said Ruth Cash-Smith of the Women’s Business Center, who nominated the Farrars for this award. “The turnaround this business has undergone in the past four years is truly remarkable and the Farrars are ever so deserving of this award.”
Of Kate McAleer, Marilyn Geroux, SBA District Director for Maine, said, “It is always wonderful to see the creativity and determination that young entrepreneurs like Kate bring to their businesses. It is a particular pleasure to select a business that has decided to relocate to Maine, as Bixby has done.
Bixby & Co. LLC is located in Rockland. The company was started in 2011 by Ms. McAleer as an organic producer of chocolate bars. In 2013, the company moved to Maine from New York state. Since the move, Ms. McAleer has participated in numerous entrepreneurial development opportunities, such as Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s “Top Gun” program, Gorham Savings Bank’s “Launchpad” competition, and the Women’s Business Center at CEI.
“Always on the lookout for opportunities for growth, Kate has steered this ever-growing family-owned company into national distribution in an amazingly short amount of time,” said Ruth Cash-Smith of the Women’s Business Center, who nominated Ms. McAleer for this award. “No longer an untried newcomer to the complex and difficult world of wholesale chocolate manufacturing, Bixby & Co. is now ably navigating new waters in terms of determining how best to strategically grow their company, according to their own values and mission” she added.
The Maine Awardees will be honored at an SBA reception on May 5th, 2015 at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester.