RSSAll Entries in the "Profiles" Category

2016 Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur of the Year

ElainaEliana Parada

Owner, Las Delicias Bakery

Eliana Parada began her career not as owner and proprietor of the Las Delicias Bakery but as an employee. Her mother opened the family business in 2006, filling a void of traditional Latin American baked goods within her community. They specialize in Bolivian, Guatemalan, and Mexican breads which Eliana learned the recipes for under the guidance and tutelage of her mother. Eliana immersed herself into Las Delicias Bakery, quickly picking up how to operate the business day to day operations.

In 2010, Eliana took over the business from her mother and began enacting her vision to the grow Las Delicias Bakery. She began by garnering more equipment to allow for expanded production, while updating the bakeries technology to expedite process. Soon the bakery located at 964 Atwells Avenue in Providence was able to produce more goods for a larger clientele. To cater to her new customers Eliana has continued to create new and exciting goods that keep her community happy, “the community likes trying new and different things.”

The twenty-eight year old Eliana continues to learn every day and has used resources like the SBA, SCORE, and Center for Women & Enterprise to garner the knowledge to help her business succeed. Eliana is a graduate of the CWE’s business planning course noting that the knowledge, strategic planning, and continuous support from the CWE staff always motivates her to keep moving the business forward, “I don’t know where I would be without their help.” Eliana continues to apply what she has learned at the CWE in her daily handling of the business, “I work on my business plan and I stick to it, I always stick to it.”

Eliana is currently renovating a new location in order to expand her operations further, “We currently operate with three employees and we do see that number growing in the near future.” Eliana is proud of the growth that her business has shown but admits that she wouldn’t be here without a strong support system, “My mom has always been my number one supporter, I couldn’t have done it without her.”

It is this type of family involvement that has made Las Delicias Bakery a staple in Eliana’s community and it is the same sentiment that keeps her customers coming back. The atmosphere and ability to deliver fresh, quality products daily has produced a winning combination for this second generation Bolivian businesswoman.

Eliana offered some advice to any other young entrepreneurs who may be interested in starting their own business, “Do you homework, research, and start off with a business plan. Try to connect and network with people in your business realm.” Valuable advice that Eliana herself practices in her business life.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Eliana Parada, owner of Las Delicias Bakery in Providence with the 2016 Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

2016 Joseph G.E. Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

DavidDavid Lévesque

Owner, Brewed Awakenings Coffee House

David Lévesque, owner and President, had a vision for a coffeehouse that would serve the best cup of coffee in town and be a gathering place for the locals. The plan was simple: provide great food and beverages to be served by friendly, outgoing employees in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Brewed Awakenings Coffee House opened its doors June of 1996 in the center of Johnston, RI with just two employees, Kay & Joe Levesque (Dave’s mom and dad).

The concept took off, and before long Dave added a second location in South County Commons Plaza in Wakefield in November, 2003. Over several years, Brewed Awakenings expanded its menu to include specialty frozen drinks, lunch and breakfast sandwiches and pastries. The next location was completed in April, 2010 at the Centre of Cherry Hill (this was the first store with drive thru service). Located just one mile from the original coffeehouse, it became another gathering place in the town of Johnston.

In April 2012 another location was opened near Sockanossett Crossroads in Cranston on Pontiac Avenue, which boasts the “tallest” coffee cup in the state of Rhode Island. The fifth and largest coffeehouse in the country at 8,000 square feet opened in 2014 in the heart of Warwick on Bald Hill Road. The new location added some additional items to an expanded lunch and dinner menu, as well as offering a full liquor license.

When asked about his success, Dave says “we are proud of the progress we have made over the years, Brewed Awakenings is a successful business because of our loyal customers and our hardworking employees.” Dave has continued to grow Brewed Awakenings, while still sticking to his original plan to be the best coffeehouse in the state. Brewed Awakenings has over 100 employees today.

2016 Rhode Island Financial Services Champion

DSC_0025A Champion For All SmallBusiness In Rhode Island

Holly Ferrara, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Greenwood Credit Union

“When I meet with a borrower it’s not just an interview for them, it’s an interview for me as well and I’m proud to say that, while I am the lender, I strive to make the person across from me to feel as comfortable as possible, so as to not make them feel intimidated or uneasy about the process.” The old adage of “respect goes a long way” is not lost on Holly Ferrara, Vice President of Commercial Lending for Greenwood Credit Union. “I give everyone the respect I would want myself.” This statement, while once commonplace has been lost in much of today’s hustle and bustle, relegated to a time gone by. But for Holly this is standard practice, she has the consummate “glass-half-full” attitude, naturally taking negatives and by intelligence and creative thinking makes them positives.

Greenwood Credit Union exists as a single entity, without the safety net of multiple locations. Where some may see limitations, Holly sees opportunity, “Geographically our presence is limited but I don’t find that to be a challenge, we have a great reputation in commercial lending.”

It is this same attitude that has convinced Holly to buck the mold and break out of common credit union conventions, “Commercial lending at credit unions had traditionally been geared towards small rental properties but in my four years here at Greenwood Credit Union we have expanded those horizons to include SBA loans among other commercial loan type; this expands the portfolio but more importantly meets the needs of our borrowers.”

In 2015 Holly brokered an SBA 504 loan of $335,000 for a real estate project totaling $805,000 to finance the 2,485 square foot expansion of a daycare center. The project added three new classrooms and enabled the business to accommodate up to 79 children, while also adding seven new staff positions. This is a glowing example of the effect Holly has made at GCU.

Holly began her commercial lending career in 2004 while still enrolled at Rhode Island College. She got her start as a credit analyst for a local bank and continued to professionally develop as a commercial lender, garnering increased responsibility at each and every step.

By 2010 Holly had achieved her

MBA form Bryant University and was attending various banking and commercial lending schools as well as fulfilling her passion for teaching an adjunct professor at various local schools and universities. For the last four years Holly has been in her current position as Vice President of Commercial Lending for Greenwood Credit Union. In that time she has consistently grown the commercial portfolio while making great strides in SBA lending, becoming a SBA preferred lender in 2015. As a testament to her hard work GCU finished 8th in Rhode Island for SBA lending for fiscal year 2015.

Besides her dedication to GCU, Holly also finds time to volunteer at the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center and has done so since 2008. Holly sits on the board of directors for of the organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence including domestic violence education, awareness, advocacy, and emergency shelter services.

It is these characteristics and her willingness to go above and beyond that makes it an honor to award her with the 2016 Small Business Administration Financial Services Champion of Rhode Island Award.

2016 Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Women_OwnedThis Civil Engineering Firm is building a strong case for Small Business in Rhode Island

Patricia Steere, Founder and Owner, Steere Engineering

Patricia Steere earned her Bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering in 1979 and her Masters from in 1981, both from the University of Delaware. Upon graduation she went on to design nuclear power plant containment structures.

By the early 1990’s her interests had changed and were guiding her toward bridge engineering. She studied, she learned, and by 2002 she was the Bridge Department Manager for the Providence office of Maguire Group. While with Maguire Group she was the lead bridge engineer for the $600 million I-195 relocation project and the lead engineer for the Iway Bridge.

These years of experience were vital in her growth as both and engineer and leader and when the project finally came to an end she had all the tools she needed to start her own business. Patricia opened the doors to Steere Engineering in 2010 with one employee, herself.

Steere Engineering began as a civil engineering firm performing bridge and building design. By 2012 the business began to grow quickly adding four structural and one civil engineer as well as a 3D CAD technician. This influx of employees had boasted the team to 10 members by years end. With the influx of talent Patricia began training five of her employees to perform National Bridge Inventory System (NBIS) Bridge inspections. This allowed her to begin offering bridge inspection services opening a new line of business.

In 2013, she added five additional employees to account for emerging opportunities as well as demand. 2014 proved to be a steady year for Steere Engineering and much of the year was spent concentrating on putting the infrastructure in place to further the business’ growth.

By 2015 Steere Engineering was capable of performing NBIS bridge inspection, bridge ratings, highway and traffic design, 3D CAD, construction services, as well as highway, civil, traffic, and environmental permitting capabilities to become a full service civil engineering firm. When asked on when she decided to add these capabilities to her firm she explained, “You have to be flexible, if your original business plan isn’t working quite the way you thought it would you have to look for other opportunities.”

Steere equates her firm to a “small firm with the experience of a large firm,” and her track record speaks for itself. Seven of her engineers worked together on the Iway project, the largest in RIDOT’s history. Steere Engineering is also the only Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) headquartered in Rhode Island offering full service transportation in the state.

Entering the Steere Engineering office you are whisked into a large main area with desks throughout, no walls, no cubicles, and no limitations. This open bay concept allows her employees to constantly communicate and bounce ideas off each other. A collaborative working environment promotes innovation and growth and that is just the way that Patricia likes it. She is confident that this environment will continue to propel Steere Engineering forward and one day allow them to grow to a regional civil engineering firm doing Department of Transportation assignments from here to New York.

Although extremely dedicated to her business Ms. Steere also finds time to volunteer for the Rhode Island Urban Search and rescue, serving as one of seven Structural Spets on the team. She has deployed with the team on multiple occasions including the 2010 floods and Hurricane Sandy. Patricia also serves as Chair of the Civil Engineering Advisory Committee for the University of Rhode Island, and is the member of the Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force. For all of the talents the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Patricia Steere, owner of Steere Engineering 2016 Rhode Island Woman-owned Small Business of the Year Award.

previous arrow
next arrow