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Recognizing the Power of Small Businesses

Sullivan, 25th Annual Small Business Awards Breakfast, U.S. Small Business Administration, Dr. Isabela Sardas, Childynamics, Wauwatosa West Suburban Association of Commerce, West Allis/West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, FUEL Milwaukee, Italian Community Center

Small business owners in the Milwaukee area are getting the recognition they deserve this week at the 25th Annual Small Business Awards Breakfast, which is taking place this Friday at the Italian Community Center. The awards breakfast is part of an annual effort to recognize small business owners. There’s very good reason to do so: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create 60 to 80 percent of new jobs in the country.

While all of this year’s winners deserve our thanks for driving innovation and bringing jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, there was one person on this impressive roster who really caught my attention: Dr. Isabela Sardas. Dr. Sardas, the recipient of the 2010 Wisconsin SBA District Director’s Award, is the program director at Childynamics, a child and adolescent mental health treatment center in Wauwatosa.

I find Dr. Sardas’ story particularly inspirational because she took a setback and transformed it into an opportunity. About ten years ago, she was working as the attending psychologist for a major hospital when it shut down. She lost her job, and had no managerial or business training. But Dr. Sardas knew that her work, and the work of her colleagues, was just beginning. “I had a good sense of what I wanted to accomplish and the needs of the children that I saw . . . I thought we could provide a very needed service. There were several other clinicians who found themselves in the same position, and I asked them if they wanted to come on board, and they said yes.”

From that humble start, she started a business that helps children from throughout Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine. She advises people who find themselves out of a job or looking to make a better life to “go with what you know.”

“Having the support of my family, having the confidence, the proper training . . . That gave me the confidence to know that I was doing the right thing,” said Dr. Sardas.

Dr. Sardas said it helps to do plenty of professional networking: “I knew people who did good work. I had a select group of people who want to join me, and it gave me the confidence to take that step.”

If you’d like to follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of Dr. Sardas and other small business owners, I would highly recommend checking out the following links for networking opportunities:

U.S. Small Business Administration Local Business Resources:

www.sba.gov/localresources/district/wi/localresources/index.html

The Wauwatosa West Suburban Association of Commerce:

www.westsuburbanchamber.com

The West Allis/West Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce:

www.wawmchamber.com

Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce:

www.brookfieldchamber.com

FUEL Milwaukee: 

www.fuelmilwaukee.org

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