The Small Business Administration has put out its annual call for nominees for its prestigious Small Business Awards, in which it recognizes outstanding companies or individuals in several categories. Rhode Island winners then compete regionally and nationally with company and individual winners from other regions.

Awards are presented at ceremonies during Small Business Week, which is scheduled for the first week in May. The SBA has celebrated Small Business Week for more than 50 years, recognizing “the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners,” according to the SBA.

The SBA defines a small business as those with less than 500 employees. Rhode Island is made up of well over 90 percent small businesses.

The deadline for submitting what the SBA calls its nomination package is 3 p.m. on Jan. 11. Complete information and filing instructions can be found on the SBA’s Rhode Island website:; or nationally at

Individuals can nominate themselves for awards, or nominations can be submitted by others. The packages are filled out by the nominee. Categories include: 

  • Small Businessperson of the Year
  • Small Business Exporter of the Year 
  • Family-owned Small Business of the Year
  • Veteran-owned Small Business of the Year
  • Woman-owned Small Business of the Year
  • Minority-owned Small Business of the Year 
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Microenterprise of the Year
  • Small Business Manufacturer of the Year
  • Home-based Small Business of the Year
  • Financial Services Champion

Last year’s winners included three from Newport County: Harmony Oschefski, owner of Cedar Hwang of Newport, Rhode Island Small Businessperson of the Year; Joseph Janson, CEO of NVTS Night Vision Technology Solutions LLC of Jamestown, Rhode Island and New England Small Business Exporter; Kaitlyn Szczupak, owner/president of S&S Transmissions and Auto Repair, Inc. of Tiverton, Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur.

Other winners last year were:  

  • Angela Laperriere, AVP, Business Assistance Manager and Lending Officer at SEED Corp. of Taunton, Rhode Island and New England Financial Services Champion.
  •  Michael Black, President, National Marker Company of North Smithfield, Rhode Island and New England Small Business Manufacturer
  • Rebecca Twitchell, president and founder, half full, LLC of Providence, Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise.
  • Juan Langigua, president and CEO of The Family Cake of Providence, Rhode Island and New England Minority Owned Small Business.
  • Duran and Kristy Searles, co-owner/artists, Painted Karma Custom Designs of Kingston, Rhode Island Homebased Small Business.
  • Dan Shedd, president of Taylor Box Company of Warren, Rhode Island Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Small Business.
  • Adam Batchelder, owner, Smoke & Squeal BBQ of Pawtucket, Rhode Island Veteran-Owned Small Business.
  • Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner and creative director, Blakely Interior Design of North Kingstown, Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business.

Paul DeRoche, Small Business Advocate, Rhode Island District Director Award.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....