On May 2, the Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) honored Karen Smaw, the director of small, women and minority business development at the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), as its Economic Development Partner of the Year.
Each year the SBA recognizes individuals and institutions for their contributions to improve the business climate in the Washington region, which includes Fairfax County. The SBA cited Smaw’s emphasis on education through the “Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County” workshops held monthly at the FCEDA.
Smaw created the “Starting a Business” workshops in 2003, and almost 3,000 business persons and entrepreneurs have attended the sessions. The SBA and the Virginia Department of Business Assistance are partners in the workshop series. Smaw also created workshops for small businesses that want to grow, and for companies that want to export goods and services to other countries.
“It’s an honor to receive the award and the recognition,” Smaw said. “However, none of this would be possible without the great companies I work with that are building the Fairfax County economy, and the amazing people on the entire FCEDA staff!”
The SBA also noted that Smaw is one of the first African-American women to serve on the board of the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the boards of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfax County-based Community Business Partnership, and the University Life Advisory Board at Fairfax-based George Mason University.
“Karen is a tremendous resource for small businesses that want to locate and grow in Fairfax County, and I am thrilled to see her getting recognition of the role she plays in building our economy,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA.