April 4, 2005 – Publisher Shaun Pennington launched the St. Thomas Source in 1999. From her home office, with the help of a small staff of reporters, Pennington worked long hours to produce the first online news publication on the island. St. Croix Source followed in July and, by December; St. John Source had come online.
Her efforts have been recognized as UVI Small Business Development Center has chosen her as the 2005 Small Business Person of the Year.
"We chose her because we looked at her longevity," said Warren Bush, state director for UVI-SBDC. "She is running a successful business and she operates her organization in a responsible manner. She encapsulates components that are successful for a small business and takes it one step further. She reaches out in ways to make other businesses successful in terms of advertising."
In 2001, Pennington was named St. Thomas Rotary II Person of the Year. Also that year, Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing devoted his weekly column to the Source publications. In November 2002, the Source was one of four top finalists in the category of General Excellence by the Online Journalism Association's annual online journalism awards. In 2003, the Source was given the St. Croix Environmental Association's environmental awareness in media award.
While Pennington is still dedicating all those hours to the publications, she also gives credit to the writers, reporters, editors both paid and volunteer her advisory board, and the Source advertisers. She is especially grateful to have her son, Aaron Reiff, working with her full time.
"He has brought a whole new perspective and fresh dynamics to the publications," she says, "There is no way I could have continued on without Aaron's help. Putting out three daily news publications for nearly five years without any other administrative personnel is a monumental task. Having a partner for the first time has made all of the difference."
The 2005 UVI-SBDC Small Business Persons of the Year award recipients on St. Croix have quite a different story, but equally humble beginnings. It was nearly 40 years ago that they opened Reliable Rentals.
"We started in 1967 and rented a few lawn mowers and chain saws on the side of a gas station," said Kathleen Mackay. She did the bookkeeping part time while her husband, Robert, did most of the day-to-day operations. Kathleen came on full time in 1971 and has never looked back. She brought party supplies into the rental pool in 1991 – adding tents, tables, chairs and linens.
"I'm honored. After being in business on St. Croix for so long, which is not always easy, it's nice to be recognized for our hard work," said Mackay. "We work hard and we contribute a lot to our community."
Robert retired in 2000 and Kathleen plans to retire in six years, leaving the family business to the care of their son, Richard, who is now the general manager.
Bush says both the Source and Reliable Rentals exude success in their operations. "We've identified these companies that have overcome the odds," he said. "Most businesses fold after a few years. They've done the things that other small businesses should pattern themselves after. It's not easy. They've gone through the hardships. They're showing growth potential. They're responding to client needs. They've done these things consistently over time."
In recognition of the small business communitys contributions to the American economy and society, this week has been designated National Small Business Week. The highlight of National Small Business Week is the presentation of the aforementioned awards, and recognizing other contributions of small businesspersons and advocates at the territorial and national levels.
The 2005 SBDC Awards will be presented Thursday on St. Thomas from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. as part of the St. Thomas/St. John Chamber of Commerces Business After Hours Reception, to be hosted at SBDCs Lead Office in Nisky Center, Suite 720.
A similar SBDC awards ceremony has been scheduled on the island on St. Croix from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Gertrudes Restaurant in Castle Coakley.
The following are also award recipients on St. Thomas:
–2005 UVI-SBDC Citizen Award V.I. Community Advocate of the Year is Edward E. Thomas, president and CEO of West Indian Company Ltd.
–2005 UVI-SBDC Corporate Award V.I. Community Advocate of the Year is FirstBank VI, Cassan Pancham, first senior vice president and general manager.
–2005 UVI-SBDC Financial Institution of the Year is Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Valentino I. McBean, regional manager/senior vice president.
–2005 United States Small Business Administration St. Thomas Small Business Persons of the Year are Neil Theodule and Micah Dorsett of Fast Shipping and Communication
–2005 United States Small Business Administration Virgin Islands Bank of the Year is Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.
The following are other award recipients on St. Croix:
–2005 UVI-SBDC Entrepreneurial Success award recipient is Judy Patalidis of Patalidis Design.
–2005 UVI-SBDC Home-Based Business Person of the Year is Diane Butler of Diane Butler Photography.
–2005 UVI-SBDC Accountant Advocate of the Year is Francisco Depusior, CPA
–2005 United States Small Business Administration St. Croix Small Business Person of the Year is Gloria P. Coursey, president of St. Croix Clinical Lab, Inc.
In addition to the awards presentations, FirstBank Virgin Islands and the UVI-SBDC are hosting the annual Small Business Open Houses from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on both islands. St. Croix's is Tuesday, April 5, at the Sunny Isle branch and St. Thomas is Wednesday's at FirstBank Plaza, Estate Annas Retreat, Ft. Mylner area.
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