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2022 National Small Business Week tour.
The SBA celebrated National Small Business Week in style. Photo: @SBAIsabel.

This is the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year

As part of National Small Business Week 2022, the SBA announced this year's winner.

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Jill Rae Scarbro, of Bright Futures Learning Services (BFLS) in West Virginia, became the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year, which was presented during the 2022 National Small Business Week (NSBW) virtual summit.

“Jill has dedicated herself to providing vital therapy services to improve lives and bring joy to children with special needs. Her small business is a valuable reminder of how much we rely on these brave entrepreneurs to give us the products and services we depend on every day.  In the face of adversity during the pandemic, Jill worked with the SBA to get critical relief, pivot her business, retain her workers and find new ways to provide needed services to her customers. My great appreciation and congratulations to Jill and all our 2022 NSBW honorees for their true innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurial achievements which helped our economy and communities recover,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

Honoring this year's theme at NSBW, “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” through which it sought to honor small businesses across the country for their resilience, ingenuity and creativity, the SBA also recognized its partners for “their involvement in entrepreneurial development, disaster recovery, government contracting, financial development, and overall support for small businesses and entrepreneurship. Small businesses, like Bright Futures, have played an integral role in powering our nation’s historically strong economic comeback while navigating challenges from a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and various variant waves.”

As part of the NSBW 2022 virtual events, Guzman honored state and territory winners as well as industry leaders for excellence in “entrepreneurship, exporting, federal contracting, lending, and disaster recovery.”

The SBA noted:

Small businesses, like Bright Futures, have played an integral role in powering our nation’s historically strong economic comeback while navigating challenges from a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and various variant waves.

These are the most relevant data about the finalists shared by the SBA:

National Winner

Jill Rae Scarbro, CEO, Bright Futures Learning Services, Winfield, West VA

Jill Rae, 2022 Small Business Person of the Year. Photo: @SBAgov.
Jill Rae, 2022 Small Business Person of the Year. Photo: @SBAgov.

Bright Futures Learning Services began in 2007, helping one child in Scarbro's grandmother's kitchen. Scarbro saw a need for ABA services in West Virginia and expanded her practice to help more children throughout the state.

In 2016, with the help of an SBA 504 loan, BFLS moved to their 7,300 square-foot home in Winfield, WV. In 2021, BFLS opened a second location in Hurricane, WV, and has 36 employees educating and advocating for children with special needs.

Scarbro has benefited from multiple SBA programs and services, including SCORE, SBDC Counseling, the 504 Loan, Emerging Leaders Program, SBA District Office training and counseling, COVID-19 EIDL, PPP, and Debt Relief funding.

BFLS was able to retain all employees and pay creditors throughout the pandemic due to the SBA's assistance.

National Runner-Up

The national runner-up for the Small Business Person of the Year is Gregory Acerra of Fireking Baking Company, Braintree, MA.

Greg Acerra, a restaurateur, started Fireking Baking Company in 1995 to provide freshly-baked European-style bread to his restaurants, clubs, and catering company.

Fireking Baking Company is an innovator in the baking industry, delivering fresh and frozen baked goods through a national distribution network.

Acerra loves growing his business and seeing his people share in the success of the company. He continues to reinvest in new state-of-the-art equipment with the cash flow flexibility achieved through SBA 504 financing. As a result, Fireking Baking Company's return on investment is efficiencies in production and effectiveness in its 137 full-time and 152 temporary employees.

The Fireking line has grown to include over 300 types of bread baked for food service, retail, and private labeling.

“Our National Small Business Week honorees reflect the strength of our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit—a spirit of community, grit, and ingenuity.  This week we shine a spotlight on the impact they make on our neighborhoods, Main Streets, innovation hubs and manufacturing centers.  And I’m honored to recognize West Virginia’s Jill Rae Scarbro as the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year,” said Guzmán.

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