Two American Indian sisters who launched a homegrown health-care business in Lumberton, N.C., were named national Small Business Persons of the Year at a gala awards ceremony on Tuesday in Washington.
Bobbie Jacobs-Chaffar and Lesa Jacobs, co-founders of Native Angels Homecare and Hospice, were among dozens of small-business owners nationwide recognized this week by the Small Business Administration in events marking Small Business Week.
SBA Administrator Steven Preston said the women epitomized the mix of hard work, risk-taking, and creativity that characterizes American entrepreneurship.
"These are qualities that make small businesses such a powerful force in the American economy," Preston said.
Members of the Lumbee Indian Tribe, the two sisters have a combined 40 years of experience in the health-care field. Seven years ago, they launched their own homecare service with just a single cell phone and one certified nursing assistant. Today, the service employs more than 300 professionals, serves 760 patients every day, and has annual sales of $9 million. They are currently building a new $7.2 million headquarters, which will offer 24-hour child-care center, an urgent-care center, a pharmacy, and a 110,000-square-foot youth sports complex.
Other winners this week included Kevin and Julie Gaukel, who grow, ground, and process whole wheat into natural bread and muffin mixes on their Keeline, Wyo., ranch. They received one of nine Business Champion awards for outstanding support of entrepreneurship.
In addition to small-business owners, the agency also recognized the disaster-recovery efforts of residents, public officials, and volunteers, including John Thomas Longo, the mayor of Waveland, Miss., who created temporary housing in a local park and coordinated rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, despite having undergone knee surgery.
Gregory Jenkins, a resident of Conklin, N.Y., received an award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer for helping to provide some 20,000 meals for victims of the Susquehanna River floods in 2006.
"These individuals displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the midst of the several devastating disasters," Preston said.
Awards were also presented to top federal small-business contractors, as well as government officials that provided contracting and subcontracting opportunities to small, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses.