Business leaders feted for seeking silver lining 

Even at the height of the economic downturn, some business leaders have managed to up the ante, redoubling their efforts to make it through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes these efforts and the effects entrepreneurs and small-business owners have made on the economy.

Those efforts are especially relevant now as San Francisco struggles with a 10 percent unemployment rate crippling vacancy rates.

Today, Mayor Gavin Newsom will honor five small-business owners and advocates who will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Award. The honors will be part of the annual Flavors of San Francisco event, which kicks off San Francisco Small Business Week. 

“I’m grateful to have received the recognition by the Small Business Administration,” said Barbara Kasoff, president and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonprofit organization.

“It can be an extraordinary time for business,” she said.

Other winners said the award is another way to call attention to some of the ongoing needs of small businesses today, including access to capital.

Katy Johnson, Wells Fargo Bank community development officer, said she believes her efforts in leading workshops to guide business leaders in garnering microloans has been a huge help in this economy.

“Small business, to me, is so important — it helps our communities grow and thrive,” Johnson said.  “I take pride in assisting them.”

Despite the recession, this year’s winners painted the future with an optimistic brush, saying this is a great time for young entrepreneurs to start a business.

Janine Popick, CEO and co-founder of direct-marketing firm VerticalResponse, said plenty of world-famous business leaders began in an economic downturn, including Bill Gates.

“If you can make it in a down economy, especially in San Francisco you have a real shot at being successful,” Popick said. “I think tenacity is your best friend when running a business.”

Michael Buich, owner of Tadich Grill, said his advice to being a successful business owner is to think green.

Buich, the 49-year-old East Bay resident who won the green business award, said businesses should take the time to analyze all the ways in which they can help Mother Earth and their bottom line.

“It’s all the little things you do,” he said. “Like using both sides of a piece of paper.”


Meet the movers and shakers

Some of the events that highlight San Francisco Small Business Week:

Flavors of San Francisco
When: Today, 6 to 8:30 p.m.
What: A gala evening featuring more than 25 local restaurateurs and merchant associations in honor of small-business owners.
Where: Cityview Room, Metreon, 101 Fourth St., San Francisco

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Small Business Award Ceremony
Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
What: Hosted by the Small Business Commission. Each supervisor will recognize a small business from his or her district.
Where: Board of Supervisors Chambers, Room 250, San Francisco City Hall

Making the Move: Becoming a Franchisee
When: Wednesday, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
What: A workshop designed to teach ways to reduce risk and increase potential for buying or selling a franchise.
Where: Small Business Conference, SFSU Downtown Campus

Opportunities in Social Media for Small Businesses
When: Wednesday, 3:20 to 5 p.m.
What: Learn what opportunities exist in the social media landscape and better ways for small-business owners to connect and grow their businesses. 
Where: Small Business Conference, SFSU Downtown Campus

Business After Hours Grand Expo
When: Thursday, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
What: The largest networking event of the year features more than 150 exhibitors, live music and food from top Bay Area restaurants.
Where: AT&T Park, Club Level, 24 Willie Mays Plaza


Small-business stars

The five Small Business Administration award winners who will be honored by the mayor today:

Small Business Person of the Year

Janine Popick
CEO and co-founder, VerticalResponse
Age: 42
Residence: San Francisco
Employees in company: 100
Type of company: Direct marketing

Financial Services Advocate of the Year

Katy Johnson
Wells Fargo Bank assistant VP and community development officer
Age: N/A
Residence: San Francisco
Employees in company: 278,000
Type of business: Banking and finance

Women in Business Advocate of the Year

Barbara Kasoff
President and CEO, Women Impacting Public Policy
Age: 67
Residence: San Francisco
Employees in company: 10
Type of company: Nonprofit business association

Minority Business Advocate of the Year

Denise Coley
Director, Global Supplier Diversity Business Development, Cisco Systems
Age: N/A
Residence: N/A
Employees in company: 65,874
Type of company: Communications technology

PG&E 2010 Green Business Award Winner

Michael Buich
Owner, Tadich Grill
Age: 49
Residence: East Bay
Employees in company: 35
Type of company: Restaurant

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Erin Sherbert

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