That was the message – delivered by Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration and someone, by her own admission, who has lived the American Dream – Wednesday morning at the Penn Oaks Golf Club in West Chester.
McMahon, a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, was the keynote speaker at the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry’s 2018 Small Business Awards Breakfast and Annual Meeting.
“(Small businesses) contribute to communities in ways that aren’t necessarily driven by a paycheck, a profit-and-loss statement, or an annual report,” said McMahon.
“You don’t often see Little League t-shirts with big, big company names on the back. What do you see? You see your local banks, your local delis, your local businesses supporting those teams.”
McMahon is the former CEO of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Along with her husband, Vince McMahon, she helped WWE grow from a 13-person, regional operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees and millions of customers worldwide.
“There’s nothing more inherently American than having the opportunity to take a risk, create something out of nothing, and leave a legacy that’s bigger than yourself,” she said.
McMahon, who leads a team of professionals dedicated to ensuring entrepreneurs have the support and tools they need to start and succeed in business, has been to 28 states and has met with more than 500 small businesses since May 2017.
In keeping with the theme of the event, the CCCBI honored Ken Knickerbocker, the publisher of VISTA Today, with its Small Business of the Year Award.
“This award recognizes not only my team’s efforts to put Chester County’s best foot forward every day, but CCCBI, CCEDC (Chester County Economic Development Council), and county leaders who helped me envision and launch VISTA Today as well,” said Knickerbocker.
VISTA Today celebrates Chester County’s quality of place and economic health by publishing curated and original stories, news, and events, and is distributed to more than 20,000 online subscribers each morning and afternoon.
“VISTA Today is a small business success and, even more importantly, a business development partner for all businesses in our region,” said Guy Ciarrocchi, the CCCBI’s President and CEO. “VISTA’s online presence has become an important part of our business community’s information sharing – and good news storytelling.”
The CCCBI also honored the Community of West Chester – for its collective response to the recent fire at Barclay Friends – with its Nonprofit of the Year Award.
Ted Hartz, President of Good Will, one of the lead fire companies to respond and also the point of collection for donations, accept the award on behalf of first responders.
Aria Swanson and Danielle Gendler, students from the Honors College at West Chester University who held a charity event on campus that raised more than $2,400, accepted the award on behalf of WCU’s students and staff.
And Dr. Todd Bainbridge, of Bainbridge Eye Care, who offered free eye exams and free glasses to all victims of the fire who suffered losses, accept the award on behalf of the all private citizens who stepped up in the time of need.