“It means that I’m making a dent in the lives of women who dream of entrepreneurship because I’m one of them,” said Salaices, owner and chief executive officer of View From the Top Inc.
“It was a very scary step to start my own business and go from full-time employment with a very good salary to launching my own business,” she added.
Salaices has been named the Small Business Administration’s El Paso District winner as the Women in Business Champion of the Year. The district consists of El Paso County and nine other West Texas counties.
She will be honored along with nine other business owners or advocates at a luncheon May 3 at the Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel, 2027 Airway.
The luncheon will be part of National Small Business Week, during May 20-26. The local event is organized by the SBA, SCORE, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and the El Paso Small Business Consortium.
Salaices started her company in 2007. It provides business services, business management and communication services to other businesses, mostly other small one.
Four years ago her company launched the IFem Network, which is free business mentoring, networking and online resources for women in partnership with SCORE and the Greater Chamber. That effort is what might have garnered this award for her, Salaices said.
Events like this luncheon are important to recognize the achievements of small businesses, she added.
“We are the fastest growing sector, especially Latina small-business owners,” Salaices said. “We are a growing sector and will continue to make incredible strides. Our contributions to the economy are huge, and we’ll continue to grow.
“It’s important to provide small businesses with the tools and resources they need to succeed,” she continued.
Phillip C. Silva, the SBA’s El Paso district director, said it’s important to recognize small-business owners because they “work so hard and encounter so many different challenges.”
“When they survive and have a positive impact on the economy, they deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments,” he said.
Oscar Venegas, president and owner of Venegas Engineering Management and Construction – or VEMAC, as it is more commonly known – was named the Small Business Person of the Year for the El Paso District.
His company is a commercial contractor and a concrete subcontractor for larger companies, especially ones doing work at Fort Bliss.
He started the company in 2003 with three employees and now has 100.
“Small-business people, especially in my field, provide the labor,” Venegas said. “You can import a lot of things, like a good project manager or a good superintendent. You can’t import 70 good trades-labor people into a marketplace.”
For helping his business grow, Venegas credits support from the SBA and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“They provide you with business acumen, like if you need a business plan or how you’re going to finance your project,” he said.
Small business is also an important driver in the El Paso economy, Venegas said.
“If you look at El Paso, it’s a bunch of small businesses,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of big businesses in this town. We’re kind of isolated from other large communities.”
Recognizing small-business success stories helps to point the way for “youngsters,” he added.
“It’s important for younger generations that they understand there are opportunities for them and it’s important for El Paso that we drive those people to be in business and be successful,” Venegas said.
The Orrantia family, owners of two Julio’s Cafe Corona restaurants in El Paso, were named the winners of Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year Award.
Francisco J. Orrantia is vice president of the company, which his grandfather founded more than 70 years ago in Juárez.
“It started in a little house in Juárez with four tables, and it has grown to what it is now,” he said. “My grandmother was the cook, and my grandfather the waiter.”
The family now operates two restaurants in El Paso – at 8050 Gateway East, which is 26 years old, and at 3630 Joe Battle, which just celebrated its first anniversary. They employ 120 people.
Francisco’s mother, Maria A. Orrantia, is the company’s president and the general manager for the Gateway East restaurant. Francisco Orrantia runs the new restaurant, and his sister, Ana L. Orrantia, is the accountant.
“We manage the business very closely,” Francisco Orrantia said. “Our food is very consistent and the service is excellent. That’s something that people recognize when they come here to eat. Not only are our recipes 100 percent Mexican, but our quality is constant.”
The Small Business Development Center of El Paso Community College was instrumental in helping the family expand to a second location, Francisco Orrantia said.
“They helped me with loan documentation to start a second location, helped with a sales forecast, a business plan, all those documents that banks take seriously to grant you a loan,” he said.
David Burge may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6126; on Twitter @dburge1962.
Small Business Week winners for the Small Business Administration’s El Paso District:
Small Business Person of the Year: Oscar Venegas, president and owner, VEMAC Inc.
Home-Based Business Champion of the Year: Christine Seelig, independent associate, Legal Shield.
Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year: Maria A. Orrantia, president; Francisco J. Orrantia, vice president; and Ana L. Orrantia, treasurer, Julio’s Cafe Corona.
Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year: Miguel Vergara III, president and CEO, Milvian Solutions LLC.
Minority Small Business Champion of the Year: Alexandra Swann, vice president, Frontier 2000.
Women in Business Champion of the Year: Melodya Salaices, owner and CEO, View From the Top Inc.
Financial Services Champion of the Year: Oscar N. Villasana, vice president, WestStar Bank.
Small Business Exporter of the Year: Franz Felhaber, president, F.C. Felhaber and Co. Inc.
When, where: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3 at the Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel, 2027 Airway.
Cost: $30 a person or $350 for a table sponsorship of 10. Table includes a listing in the program and being recognized at the luncheon.
Registration: RSVPs are recommended, but tickets will be available at the door.
©2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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