BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two program participants from the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership were honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The awards were presented in August during the National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference in Washington, D.C.
Edward O. Watts, president of Watts Architecture & Engineering, P.C., in Buffalo, received the “8(a) Graduate Firm of the Year” award from the SBA. He was praised as a business owner for his role in creating jobs and contributing to the economy.
“Ed Watts competed against a list of impressive nominees from every state and territory in the U.S.,” said Jorge Silva-Puras, SBA Region II administrator. “Watts represents the commitment, inspiration and the professionalism that are characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.”
A graduate of Core program in UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Watts also is one of the individuals who helped develop the pilot Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs program at UB in 2003.
Watts Architecture & Engineering, P.C. is a full service architecture, engineering and environmental services consulting firm. Watts established the company in 1986 as a sole proprietorship and today has more than 90 full-time employees. The firm is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise with the State of New York and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise with the New York State Department of Transportation.
The SBA also named Buffalo business owner Shandra Roberson “Region II Minority Small Business Person of the Year.” The SBA’s Region II comprises New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Roberson and the SBA’s other nine regional award winners attended a White House reception on Aug. 26.
Roberson is a current participant in UB’s Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a year-long series of courses and mentoring opportunities designed to help minority and women entrepreneurs move their companies to the next stage of development. Founded in 2003, the MWEE program is a joint venture by the UB School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the UB Center for Urban Studies with underwriting support from the Allstate Foundation.
Roberson is president of S & W Contracting of WNY, a general construction and janitorial services firm headquartered in Buffalo. She founded her business in 1999. The company has grown from three to 20 full-time employees as it has expanded from its beginnings in apartment-unit rehabilitation work to major commercial projects, including federal government contracts in excess of $1 million.
“Shandra Roberson’s personal business story clearly demonstrates how hard work, tenacity and taking advantage of federal assistance can lead to personal success and positive outcomes in the community,” said the SBA’s Silva‐Puras.
Established in 1987, the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership promotes business growth through leadership development and experiential learning. Nearly 800 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel or contact the CEL at 716-885-5715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.