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SBA has Advice for Consumers, Entrepreneurs

SBA has Advice for Consumers, Entrepreneurs

Local Business News Executive Editor Glenn Gilbert asked Constance Logan to address issues affecting small businesses. Logan is the district director of the Small Business Administration in Michigan. Here are excerpts from her responses. 


Glenn Gilbert, Local Business News Executive Editor

  GILBERT (LBN): In his announcement of Small Business Week (April 29 to May 5) President Trump said the country’s 30 million small businesses employ nearly 58 million Americans — 48 percent of the labor force, and that each year, small businesses create two-out-of-three net new, private-sector jobs in the United States.  Is this a trend that is sustainable and where will this leave us 10 years from now?


LOGAN (SBA): The U.S. Small Business Administration surely hopes the current trend in the economy is sustainable.  SBA’s Office of Advocacy statistics show that small businesses are the driving force in our economy.  Multiple economic indicators consistently signaled a strengthening U.S. economy in 2017.   In the third quarter, the  economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent,  and the unemployment rate is down.  This trend seems to be continuing into 2018.   The United States is home to 30.2 million small businesses which employ 58.9 million people, or 47.5 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce.  The three industries with the most small business employment are: 1) health care and social assistance; 2) accommodation and food services; and (3) retail trade.  Therefore, if the current trends continue, we hope that these small businesses grow into large businesses and more small businesses develop as a result.


  GILBERT (LBN): When we talk about the necessity of supporting small businesses, does this mean the public should support so-called Main Street retailers instead of shopping online?


Constance Logan, District Director of the Small Business Administration

LOGAN (SBA): When it comes to supporting small businesses, we don’t encourage one avenue of how the public shops over the other.  In fact, many of the small retailers we help also have an online presence.


  GILBERT (LBN): The president has been very negative, for example, toward Amazon. He claims Amazon has an unfair advantage over traditional retailers? Is he correct?


LOGAN (SBA): As the only independent voice of small business, SBA certainly advocates for supporting small businesses. Our number one focus is on guiding small businesses on the right path to success with resources and advice.  Your question is an important one to independent retailers; unfortunately, we don’t comment on these issues at the district level.


  GILBERT (LBN): How do prices of merchandise of bricks-and-mortar retailers compare to online shopping?

Or perhaps I am misunderstanding this and the question should rather be … to what extent should Main Street retailers take advantage of online functions?  Can you give examples?


LOGAN (SBA): I think the best answer to that question is for Main Street retailers to work with our certified business consultants to do an analysis of their competitive strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan that best incorporates e-commerce with brick and mortar sales.  Our consultants do a great job in helping small businesses create a marketing strategy by incorporating market research into the plan.  They can conduct a search engine optimization or SEO on the business’ website and identify what’s working and what needs improvement.  These services are all free through the SBA funded Small Business Development Centers located across the state.  The SBA consulting services  help small businesses compete at a local, national, or global scale and this is how we are able to help small businesses meet the needs of their customers, regardless if is it at the Main Street retail shop or online level.


  GILBERT (LBN): Can you give some concrete examples of why and how the public should and can support community businesses?


LOGAN (SBA): The public should support community businesses by patronizing  establishments in their neighborhood because it’s good for the local economy.  Viable small businesses are job creators and the cornerstone of healthy communities.   We have 870,301 small businesses in Michigan.  Those small businesses employ 1.8 million and created 66,240 net new jobs.  Various studies such as the one by the American Independent Business Alliance show that when you shop local,  each dollar you spend at independent businesses  returns three times more money to the local economy than one dollar spent at a chain.  This study also suggests that shopping local creates jobs and opportunities, increases wealth of residents, creates a healthier environment, lowers taxes and enhances local democracy. This information can be found at Take for example Great Lakes Health in Jackson.  William and Cheri Deary started this company in 1994 with a bank loan guaranteed by the SBA.  Great Lakes Caring grew to a company with more than 2,600 employees in nine states, with 25 offices, serving over 9,000 people a day.  The Dearys sold the company in 2016.  I’m very proud that the SBA was there to help them in the beginning stages.  And there are so many stories just like this.  This is why the public needs to support community businesses.


  GILBERT (LBN): Do you have anything to say about the results of the recently completed Small  Business Week?

I have reviewed the resources available on SBA’s website, including the very helpful and comprehensive Michigan Small Business Resource Guide ( But I can imagine this remains a maze to the average person.  Can you simplify the steps a person dreaming of starting a small business should follow — how to find property, how to learn about financing, etc.?


LOGAN (SBA): Well first, National Small Business Week was a phenomenal success, especially here in Michigan.  The SBA Michigan district  presented the 2018 Michigan Small Business awards at the 14th Annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event in Lansing on May 3rd. The SBA has been honoring the contributions of small businesses and entrepreneurs since 1963!

In addition to that event, the SBA Michigan district office kicked off National Small Business Week by participating in  the 26th Annual Association for Enterprise Opportunities (AEO) 2018 National Microbusiness Conference in Detroit that same week.  More than 600 executives, decision-makers, microfinance practitioners, advocates, policymakers, small business advisors, educators, funders, investors, fintech influentials and entrepreneurs from across the nation gathered here to share, network and collaborate on ways to move Main Street forward through inclusion, innovation and investment.  I also took part in the 1st Annual State of Small Business in Michigan Live Chat on Facebook with the Small Business Association of Michigan.  Rob Fowler, SBAM  President & CEO and I had a lively and spirited discussion highlighting small businesses in Michigan as well as sharing what opportunities are coming from SBA and SBAM that small business owners and entrepreneurs can look forward to.

Our resource guide and website can be overwhelming which is why we are in the middle of a rebranding and messaging campaign that we hope will generate a more customer centric approach.  With the rebrand, our goal is to make it easier to access information on how to start, grow, expand and recover.  The 10 steps to start a business are:

  • Conduct market research
  • Write your business plan
  • Fund your business
  • Pick your business location
  • Choose a business structure
  • Choose your business name
  • Register your business
  • Get federal and state tax IDs
  • Apply for licenses and permits
  • Open a business bank account

Our website and resource guide go more in-depth on the 10 steps while providing additional resources such as free counseling services and training for individuals interested in starting their own business.

   GILBERT (LBN): I assume virtually all small businesses require loans.  What percentage of small businesses have benefitted from SBA loans? What other business financing do banks typically offer?  Can the average person learn about SBA financing by going to his or her local bank?  Are banks required to work with the SBA in terms of financing? 


LOGAN (SBA): Most startup companies do require capital but many obtain it from friends and family or often by using credit cards.  Loans to new businesses are typically hard to get because they have inherent risk, but by using the SBA guaranty programs, lenders can mitigate that risk.  So we guarantee many loans to launch new businesses and create jobs.  In fiscal year 2017, the Michigan district office supported 2,700 loans totaling $1.087 billion, a 15.39 percent increase in loan dollar volume over the same time period last year. This reflects the highest level of SBA lending ever in Michigan and is a testament to its work with Michigan lenders to continue supporting small businesses.  Our extensive outreach and collaboration with community organizations and lenders in the state has contributed to loan increases to minority entrepreneurs.

Included in the $1 billion is more than $101 million in SBA-approved loans to woman-owned small businesses, $26.9 million in loans allocated to veterans, and nearly $116 million to minority-owned small businesses (a 14.88 percent increase over last year).

SBA lending in 2018 continues to be strong.  With 1,311 7(a) loans through March, the Michigan district is currently the second highest volume SBA district in the country.  Overall SBA lending is up 7.3 percent year to date.

Special Needs Teen Thrilled with Bedroom Makeover

Special Needs Teen Thrilled with Bedroom Makeover

(Nicole McClelland, 16, of Waterford (center) surrounded by (from left) Rory Karpathian, owner of Beds by Design, and Suite Dreams Project’s Kay Ponicall, Lauren Tonne and designer Kristin Smith of Jones-Keena and Company, were all involved in the total transformation of Nicole’s bedroom. [Photo by: Vaughn Gurganian])

“I love it,” said a tearful Nicole McClelland as her new bedroom was unveiled to her over the weekend.

Nicole is a 16-year-old spina bifida sufferer who is the recipient of a bedroom makeover project supervised by The Suite Dreams Project of Rochester, Mich.

Suite Dreams provides children with various medical challenges a custom-designed bedroom created to meet their specific needs, tastes and preferences — all at no charge to their family.

Kay Ponicall, co-founder of  Suite Dreams, called the refurbished bedroom in Nicole’s Waterford Township home “a chic, sophisticated space” that follows an animal theme.

The bedroom’s design was provided by Jones-Keena and Company of Birmingham and Beds by Design, a Rochester mattress maker, donated the bed. The bed is custom fit for Nicole and “makes it easier for her to get in and out of her wheelchair,” Ponicall said.

Beds by Design is donating a mattress to the Suite Dreams Project for every mattress it sells through the end of the month. Seven mattresses have been donated so far.

 For more information on The Suite Dreams Project, visit To learn more about the twin mattress donation promotion being held by Beds by Design, call 248-923-2153 or visit

Chicago Chef Now Restaurant Owner

Chicago Chef Now Restaurant Owner

(Interior View of Home Bistro )

Local Business News

Rose Morenz probably didn’t consider herself a trend-setter in 1989 when she made potato pancakes for her 6-year-old grandson Victor.

The recipe was a natural for woman of Hungarian descent. But while potato pancakes may not be as American as apple pie today, they aren’t necessarily thought of as ethnic dish either.

“There was something about them,” Victor Morenz said. “She diced all of the potatoes by hand. She had very finely diced onions. Simple seasoning. They were the best potato pancakes I’ve ever had.”

While not originating in the United States, many recipes have been so altered from what they were originally that it is often hard to think of them as ethnic.

“We’ve all grown up eating all kind of ethnic food, which basically has become American food,” Morenz said. “Tacos at this point are essentially an American food. There are probably as many taco places in America as there are in Mexico.”

Morenz, now 31 years old, and his wife, Emily Gilbert, also 31, have purchased a restaurant in Chicago that has established a reputation for what is called New American fare.

Home Bistro restaurant owners Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert near Lake Michigan in Chicago

Home Bistro restaurant owners Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert near Lake Michigan in Chicago

Home Bistro, or HB as it is more popularly known, became a destination spot when it was owned by the Hearty Boys, Chicago caterers Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh. They at one time hosted a Food Network show. They called their restaurant in the Boystown section of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood HB, a Hearty Boys Spot.

Their executive chef, Joncarl Lachman, took a New American approach but with a Dutch emphasis. He purchased the restaurant himself in 2007. Lachman owned two restaurants when he helped judge the 2010 San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, a contest featuring 16 chefs from eight participating culinary schools, including Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts, from which Morenz graduated.

Morenz prepared a pork tenderloin roulade stuffed with cranberries, candied walnuts and sage, served with fried mashed potato pancakes and trotter and cranberry demi glace for the competition. His dish also featured frizzled parsnips and braised red cabbage. Morenz’s entry finished second in the competition.

Lachman recruited Morenz to serve as a line cook at another restaurant he owned, Vincent, in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Shortly after, in January 2011, Lachman named Morenz sous (second) chef at Home Bistro, and Morenz became HB’s executive chef in January 2013.

Morenz explained how his New American approach applies to a white anchovy pinxto appetizer on Home Bistro’s menu. It includes a French canapé, with pickled peppers as a Spanish item. The anchovy is skewered with a cucumber base and piece of fried hallumi cheese, which is Middle Eastern.

Chef with Appetizer

Executive Chef Victor Morenz with White Anchovy Pinxto appetizer

What’s American about it? “The fact that I’m American,” Morenz said. “I’m not using any ethnic preparation of anything. I’m doing it my way, which is with French technique.” For instance, in the white anchovy pinxto, “I take a pinxto from the Basque region in Spain, but put Turkish cheese on it along with the traditional ingredients of white anchovy, pickled peppers, and tomato viaigrette on a baguette slice.”

“It’s a melting pot of cuisine with familiar foods,” Emily Gilbert said of HB ‘s menu. They wouldn’t be mixed together in an ethnic approach. Wikipedia defines New American cuisine as a trend originating in the United States in the 1980s.

“New American cuisine is generally a type of fusion cuisine that assimilates flavors from the melting pot traditional American cooking techniques mixed with foreign … components,” Wikipedia said.

“New American cuisine makes innovative use of seasoning and sauces. Originally based on French Nouvelle and United States cuisine, New American has since progressed to include elements of Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and other cuisines.”

Morenz and Gilbert plan basic aesthetic changes in the building, which features classic Chicago architecture. The structure has been owned by the Weinberger family — now David Weinberger — since the 1920s. It has about 1,800 square feet, including the kitchen, and a seating capacity of 40.

There are no expansion options at HB and restaurants in Chicago can’t have liquor licenses unless they have more than one restroom. With one restroom they can opt for a bring-your-own-bottle approach and charge a corkage fee. Home Bistro has no such fee, which makes BYOB a popular option exercised by virtually all of its customers.

Executive Chef Victor Morenz, left, and Sous Chef Corey Bowers

Executive Chef Victor Morenz, left, and Sous Chef Corey Bowers

Morenz and Gilbert, who is a program assistant in gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University, describe HB’s atmosphere as rustic, cozy, intimate, romantic and candle-lit. Morenz said HB, which has a 4.4 rating from Yelp, is a neighborhood restaurant with a lot of destination diners.

Morenz said he started cooking for fun in high school. He sought to master chicken marsala, preparing it for his family. He said running a restaurant in Chicago is a tough business., involving long hours and a lot of hard work. “But it’s easily the most satisfying work I’ve ever had,” Morenz said. “There is instant gratification every day because you get to see people really appreciating what you spent all day working on.”

HB’s staff includes Corey Bowers as sous (second) chef, who attended culinary school with Morenz, and David Devore as front-of-the-house manager, who has worked at HB since it was affiliated with the Hearty Boys. An artist who also was with the Hearty Boys, Matthew Lew, is creating some pieces for the restaurant that feature Morenz and Gilbert’s dog, Elvis.

Front-of-the-House Manager David Devore, left, and  Executive Chef Victor Morenz

Front-of-the-House Manager David Devore, left, and Executive Chef Victor Morenz

Home Bistro is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 5 to 10:30 Friday through Saturday, for brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, and dinner Sunday from 5 to 9 o’clock.

The restaurant is available to be rented out for private events on Mondays. Groups also can rent out the dining room, with a family-style option offered for $40 (plus tax and tip) for a four-course meal.

The restaurant is located at 3404 N. Halsted St., about a mile from Wrigley Field. The phone number is (773) 661-0299.