Times West Virginian covers Agile5’s SBA win, ‘Fairmont company Agile5 named Small Business Person of the Year by SBA’

Check out the Times West Virginian’s article from May 2, 2024 here:

WHITE HALL — The highlight of Small Business Week in West Virginia took place at the Robert H. Mollohan Center on Wednesday.

The SBA awarded Agile5, a software company based in Fairmont, with Small Business Person of the Year. The team of Lisa Fritsch, Peter Fritsch, Adam Leach and Chet Tobrey shared the award.

“It’s been a huge honor that the SBA decided to recognize what we’ve brought to the state and what we’ve brought to the business community,” President and CEO Lisa Fritsch said. “It’s very exciting. My partners and I together have done this and so it’s important for me that the recognition be spread to everyone who’s in the company.”

Agile5 develops custom software to meet the needs of business. They also provide software support. Fritsch said her company also gives back to the community by supporting different types of charity, food banks and employee matching for fundraising campaigns.

The other winners were Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Charlotte’s Cafe, Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year Hasten Services, and Family-Owned Small Business of the Year S&S Diamonds and Fine Jewelry.

“I think it’s important to recognize that woman-owned, veterans and minority-owned businesses are sometimes at a disadvantage,” John Fleming, SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said. “Part of what the SBA tries to do is level the playing field for what we call disadvantaged businesses.”

Studies show the best way to build wealth is by opening a business, Fleming said. It also helps build community between the owner and residents. Because of the impact small business has on communities, especially small communities like the ones in West Virginia, Fleming said it’s important to recognize their contributions.

James Merrill, owner of Hasten Services, a Morgantown-based commercial janitorial and contracting company, said receiving the award is a milestone for his business.

Merrill, who is also a veteran, said it’s important to recognize veteran-owned businesses because of the opportunities they provide to other veterans.

“We love to hire veterans,” he said. “They’ve got the experience and they are so nice to mold into a good employee.”

Lenders also received special recognition. Craig Engelhapt, SBA loan coordinator for WesBanco, said communities benefit from the services and products provided by small business. He said WesBanco views itself as the community lender, and when the community does better, the bank does better.

“The bank is a for profit entity,” he said. “So we lend our money, we’d like to get it back, so the bank does better. It’s all encompassing. It’s good for everybody if we can facilitate their loan and get their business up and running.”

WesBanco received Export Lender Recognition from the SBA at the event.

The award ceremony was part of 70 other events the SBA held for Small Business Week across the country. Fleming said he has high hopes for the winners of this year’s awards.

“We hope they all become large businesses and employ lots of people and increase the tax base,” Fleming said. “That’s why we’re doing what we do, we try to level the playing field and make it easier for small businesses to start and succeed.”