New Kensington's Sweet Tillies one of 15 companies to be featured at National Small Business Week summit

·3 min read

Sep. 14—A New Kensington business owner will be featured Wednesday at the conclusion of the U.S. Small Business Administration's three-day National Small Business Week virtual summit.

Amy Johnson owns Sweet Tillies, a baklava bakery that is among several new, small businesses that have opened in the city's downtown.

Johnson said her business was one of 15 across the nation chosen to be featured during the summit, which began Monday. She recorded a video talking about her story and how the SBA was useful to her. She said it's scheduled to stream beginning at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Johnson, a New Kensington native, and her husband Carl, an Air Force veteran, moved back to New Kensington in 2001. She opened Sweet Tillies in December in a building on Fifth Avenue owned by Olde Towne Overhaul.

Johnson said she knows an SBA employee who thought her story was a good one for the summit's theme of resiliency — she quit her corporate job and opened a start-up business during the pandemic in a town trying to revitalize.

"I had no idea of the vast amount of support and resources that were available from the SBA and at my local district office until I met an employee of the SBA who introduced me," Johnson said. "They offer training and education, online trainings, lending programs, mentors and even possibilities of selling your goods or services to the federal government. They even have a 'Boots to Business' program that provides veterans and their spouses with entrepreneurial education and training programs."

President Biden signed a proclamation declaring the week of Sept. 12-18 National Small Business Week.

According to the SBA, the summit is spotlighting the resilience of the nation's entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business economy as they rebuild from the economic crisis brought on by the covid pandemic.

Celebrity participants have included Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban and Jennifer Lopez.

To see her video, Johnson said people will have to register on the SBA website, sba.gov, for the summit. Registration is free.

Johnson said she is revamping her business plan for Sweet Tillies and has applied to the SBA for a mentor to help her review and examine the plan and help with business development and growth strategies.

"I am just starting my connection with the SBA, and they have been wonderful to work with. There are even more resources down the road that I hope to be able to utilize," she said. "I am thankful to now be connected, as I am learning as I go with Sweet Tillies, but mostly thankful that when I come into challenges — which I will — I won't feel like I have to face them alone, and can easily reach out to my local SBA office for assistance and guidance."

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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