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SBA celebrates 15 NM businesses and lenders

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Editor’s note: this story has been updated with the correct photo of John Garcia.

The state office of the U.S. Small Business Administration will fete 15 small businesses, champions and lenders on Wednesday for their extraordinary contributions to strengthening New Mexico’s economy and creating jobs.

The Small Business Week awards ceremony will be held at the Sandia Golf Club at 7:30 to 10 a.m., hosted by the SBA and the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

“Small business is vital to New Mexico’s economy. Our 152,500 small businesses employ over 95% of the state’s private workforce,” SBA New Mexico District Director John M. Garcia said in a statement.

John Garcia
Journal file photo

“During Small Business Week, we celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit so important to our state and thank our small-business community for their dedication and commitment to growing our economy,” he said. “The SBA invites you to join us for our annual awards ceremony and also invites communities across the state to participate by recognizing small businesses during Small Business Week.”

Nationally, for more than 50 years, the president issues a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week during the first week in May with local celebrations and events hosted by SBA throughout the country.

The 2019 SBA New Mexico Small Business Week Award Winners:

• Small Business Person of the Year – Emile Gonzales, president, G2i LLC, Albuquerque.

• New Mexico Legacy Award – F. Leroy Pacheco, president & CEO, The Loan Fund in Albuquerque.

• Entrepreneurial Success Award – Ryan B. Wallace, CEO & founder NM Solar Group Inc., Albuquerque.

• Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year – Ruben Navarro, president, Galactic Network Integrators Inc., Albuquerque.

• Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year – Jennifer Sweetin, CFO, Triskelion Group, Albuquerque.

• Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year – Cyndi Wells, owner, Pet Pangaea LLC, Los Alamos.

• Financial Services Champion of the Year – Kathleen Gallegos, SBA specialist, commercial relationship manager, U.S. Bank, Albuquerque.

• Women in Business Champion of the Year – Rhonda Johnson, regional manager, WESST Women’s Business Center, Roswell.

• Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year – James Cassidy, veterans business adviser, New Mexico Veteran Business Outreach Center, Albuquerque.

• Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award – Patricia Livingston, center director, Small Business Development Center NMSU, Alamogordo.

• Impact Lender of the Year – Jason Wyatt, president, Western Commerce Bank, Carlsbad.

• Certified Development Company Lender of the Year – Thomas Braasch, executive director. Capital CDC, Austin, Texas.

• 7(a) Small Business Lender of the Year – Katrina Tracy, senior business relations officer, SBA Lending, Wells Fargo Bank, Albuquerque.

• 7(a) Community Lender of the Year – Jason Wyatt, president, Western Commerce Bank in Carlsbad.

• 504 Third Party Lender of the Year Greg Leyendecker, president & CEO, New Mexico Bank & Trust, Albuquerque.

For more information regarding SBA National Small Business Week and the New Mexico Small Business Week Awards Ceremony, visit or contact Ivan Corrales,, (505)248-8227.