80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesSt. Croix Business Owner Getting National Award

St. Croix Business Owner Getting National Award

Sept. 11, 2007 — A St. Croix cleaning business will clean up at an awards ceremony this week in Washington, D.C.
Kelly’s Cleaning Services will receive the U.S. Small Business Association 8(a) Graduate Firm of the Year Award during National Minority Enterprise Development Week celebrations Thursday and Friday. The award will go to Orneth La Corbiniere, president of the business, according to a news release from the SBA's Puerto Rico and V.I. district office.
"I am very proud and honored to be the first winner from the region who has won nationally," she said.
La Corbiniere began operations in 1996, offering a complete range of maintenance and janitorial services — which include stripping, waxing, polishing, buffing and steam cleaning — to residential areas, along with general office cleaning and maintenance to the industrial and commercial fields.
"This is a fantastic and outstanding accomplishment for La Corbiniere," said Carl Christensen, branch manager of the St. Croix SBA office. "The decision to honor her wasn't made locally, it was made nationally."
In 1997, La Corbiniere got certification under the SBA’s 8(a) business-development program, becoming the first woman-owned firm in the territory to get the certification. To qualify for the program, a small business must be owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. Successful applicants must also meet size standards for small business concerns, be in business at least two years and display reasonable success potential and good character. In the application process, La Corbiniere had to fill out numerous forms.
Her background in banking helped her qualify, which came a couple of months after she applied, La Corbiniere said. Firms must continue to comply with various requirements while in the program.
SBA teaches companies to compete in the federal contracting arena and take advantage of greater subcontracting opportunities available from large firms as the result of public-private partnerships, according to the SBA website. Federal acquisition policies encourage federal agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to certified 8(a) firms. The firms are required to maintain a balance of commercial and government business. SBA district offices monitor and measure the progress of participants through annual reviews and business planning. The participants in the program may take advantage of business training, counseling and marketing assistance.
Throughout her involvement in the program, La Corbiniere continuously increased her opportunities for growth as she secured contracts with the federal government. Her business began with two people, including herself, generating $57,000 during its first year. Kelly’s Cleaning Services has grown to 15 employees and is currently generating close to $700,000 in annual sales. Today La Corbiniere is a successful graduate of the SBA program.
"La Corbiniere is the perfect example of what women can do," Christensen said. "She took full advantage of all the opportunities she could and just ran with it."
A regional SBA official also hailed La Corbiniere's accomplishments.
“Ms. La Corbiniere competed against a list of impressive nominees from every state and territory in the U.S.,” said William M. Manger Jr., administrator for SBA’s Region II. “She represents the hard work, the risk taking and the creativity that are the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.”
Christensen added, "This is a big honor for our little island, justifiably deserved."
La Corbiniere will be honored at an awards gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington Thursday with 800 people expected to attend. Delegate Donna M. Christensen has called La Corbiniere to congratulate her and will meet her in Washington.
This year’s National MED Week Conference marks the 25th year that SBA has joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency as a partner in highlighting the achievements of minority-owned businesses.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.