Sixteen small business owners from the Chicagoland area graduated from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Emerging Leaders program, a “mini-MBA” training initiative for local businesses on the brink of growth.

This is the ninth year the SBA Illinois District Office has hosted the seven-month executive education series. The program includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time, connects small business owners with a network of industry experts and peers, and supports the creation of a three-year strategic growth action plan.

Since the SBA started offering the Emerging Leaders program in various locations across the country, graduates have created more than 2,400 new full-time jobs, accessed more than $73 million in new financing, and secured federal, state, local and tribal contracts worth more than $1 billion.

The 2016 graduates from the Chicago class represent diverse industries including information technology, marketing and advertising, construction, commercial printing, and more.

The Emerging Leaders class is made possible with support and sponsorship from SCORE, the nonprofit association of thousands of volunteer business counselors, and Wintrust Bank. Tom Huffman, senior vice president for Wintrust’s SBA Lending, spoke to graduates at the event.

“The Emerging Leaders program offers small business owners the opportunity to receive high quality training while stepping back and managing their company’s growth from a high level,” SBA Illinois District Director Robert “Bo” Steiner said. “Investing seven months into this intensive course can pay off for years to come. I’m excited to see how this year’s class continues to grow.”

Gary “Hal” Link, owner of Halldoor Woodworking in Chicago, says Emerging Leaders has given him a new framework to make decisions for his business.

“Most valuable was learning the skills to work my business analytically, instead of emotionally,” he said.

The following are the 2016 SBA Emerging Leaders graduates in Chicago:

•           Abdul Ahmed, AKA Comp Solutions of Chicago

•           Ronald Banks, Genesis Integrative Solutions of Chicago

•           George Benitez, Acanthus Technology of Chicago

•           Brian Buss, TAD Consulting & Mgmt. Trans America of Chicago

•           Jen Brady, Fred & Associates of Chicago

•           Harold Gauthier, Gauthier Glass LLC of Chicago

•           Cornelius Griggs, GMA Construction Group of Chicago

•           April Hughes, HPZS of Chicago

•           Laurie Kohl, The Elevator Consultants of Chicago

•           Rozmene Makhani, SQN Associates, LLC of Chicago

•           Symon Ogeto, SEED Group, Inc. of Chicago

•           Dave L. Ransom, Jr., D & R Press of Elmwood Park

•           Kenneth Webb, Fact Finders Group of Matteson

•           Joy McCullum-Gye, SM Plow Group Chicago of Chicago

•           Carmen Meekins, Reassemble Education & Training of Chicago

•           Gary “Hal” Link, Halldoor Woodworking of Chicago

Apply to become a US SBA Emerging Leaders Scholar here.

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