The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Orange County Chamber of Commerce & Industry kicked off Small Business Week a few days early Thursday at a luncheon applauding nine business people.
Four Orange County honorees were included on the roster:
Raul Medrano, director of the Orange County Minority Business Development Center in Santa Ana, which helps minority-owned businesses obtain loans; Jacqueline Fries, owner of Industrial Business Properties in La Habra and an advocate for women-owned businesses; William Cyril, regional vice president of Heller First Capital Corp. in Newport Beach, a major lender to small businesses; and Rieva Lesonsky, editor of Entrepreneur magazine in Irvine, who has written several books on small businesses.
Small Business Week, Sunday through May 15, is sponsored by the SBA, the federal agency that provides government-backed loans to small businesses.
About 250 people attended the luncheon, which was held at the Anaheim Marriott hotel. Steve Waddell, director of the SBA's district office in Santa Ana--which serves Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties--opened the luncheon with remarks about President Clinton's economic stimulus package, voted down last month by the U.S. Senate.
"We ran out of loan guarantee authority on April 29, just in time for Small Business Week," Waddell said. "What does this mean? We don't know yet. We are still accepting and processing loan applications, but we won't be able to give final approval until funds become available again."
Waddell assured the audience that there is cause for optimism: "We've had these shortfalls before, and they're normally short-lived."