Top SBDC honors for three LI entrepreneurs

Three Long Island small-business owners were among nine statewide earning SUNY Entrepreneur of the Year honors this week.

Two clients of the Farmingdale State College Small Business Development Center and one from the Stony Brook University SBDC were on the short list presented by the New York Small Business Development Center, a State University of New York business-assistance organization partially funded by Albany and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The statewide SBDC, which culled its 2016 list from more than 20,000 statewide clients, honored business owners who – with the assistance of SBDC advisors or researchers – oversaw strong commercial growth during the past calendar year.

The statewide SBDC’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year was East Setauket-based Mindwick Inc., which focuses on science education for students in grades one through three.

It was the second significant milestone for founder Elena Yakubovskaya and Mindwick, which in 2015 was awarded a $150,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to develop “Ready for STEM,” a program to improve reasoning skills in elementary students.

Also honored by the statewide SBDC were fiber-optic telecommunications specialist Versa-Tel Inc. and mechanical construction firm Kimco Group Inc., both clients of the Farmingdale SBDC.

East Meadow-based Versa-Tel, the statewide SBDC’s Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year, designs and installs cutting-edge commercial telecommunications systems with a focus on high-speed fiber optics. Farmingdale small-business advisors helped owner Michael D’Antoni obtain a state Service Disabled Veteran Certification – one of only 160 granted to New York small businesses, according to the SBDC.

Owner Kim DiLeo’s Kimco Group has grown from $10,000 in completed projects in 2012 to more than $3.5 million in completed projects in 2015, thank primarily to federal and state procurement opportunities arranged through the Farmingdale SBDC. That earned the West Babylon startup Procurement Entrepreneur of the Year honors.

“We are pleased to recognize our Entrepreneurs of the Year for their extraordinary efforts in business, as well as contributions to their communities,” State SBDC Director James King said in a statement. “Their hard work and dedication helped them achieve success and accomplish their goals, while at the same time making a positive impact on the state’s economy.”

The New York SBDC provides expert management and technical assistance to startups and existing businesses through 24 campus-based regional centers and 29 outreach offices. Leveraging university, government and private-sector resources, the SBDC aims to solve small-business problems and foster entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on services for women, veterans, minorities and special-needs clients.

The most-recognized SBDC chapter in this year’s awards was the Mid-Hudson SBDC. Affiliated with Ulster County Community College, the Kingston-based chapter – which services businesses in Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties – boasted three 2016 SBDC Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Information on all nine Entrepreneur of the Year winners is available here.