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White House Representatives Lend a Hand at Deer Creek Winery
SHIPPENVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – White House-appointees Michelle Christian and Jason Simmons and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Curt Coccodrilli visited Deer Creek Winery this week and experienced the workings of a small, local winery business.
(Pictured above: left to right – Deer Creek Winery owners Rhonda and Dennis Brooks; U.S. Small Business Administration Associate Administrator for Office of Field Operations Jason Simmons; U.S. Small Business Administration Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian; and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Curt Coccodrilli. Photos by Jessica Shaffer.)
Christian, Simmons, and Coccodrilli arrived in Clarion on Thursday, July 12, and began their tour of the area by attending a small interactive roundtable with several local entrepreneurs at Clarion University Small Business Development Center.
“What we are finding is that we need to reach out to more of rural America, that perhaps were, not necessarily neglected purposefully, but perhaps these areas have not been reached as often as they should have,” Christian said.
“We have teamed up with USDA, which is why (Coccodrilli) is here with me, and we are traveling around rural Pennsylvania seeing what we can do to help the economy.”
Following the roundtable, they headed to Deer Creek Winery, where owners Rhonda and Dennis Brooks gave them the opportunity to learn more about the business in an interactive tour. The visitors were shown how the wine bottles are filled, corked, wrapped, and sealed, and were then offered a chance to do so themselves.
The visitors were also offered a sample of the wine being bottled, Deer Creek’s limited edition Perfectly Pineapple.
The second part of the tour took the visitors through the interior of the winery’s bed and breakfast facilities, patio, and seating areas, and also gave them an opportunity to sample the other wines available in the lounge.
Following the tour, the visiting officials sat down with owners Rhonda and Dennis Brooks to discuss small business concerns in the local area, as well as the resources and support available for the growth and expansion of local businesses.
“President Trump has given the charge to our bosses, saying ‘We need to focus on rural America,’” Simmons said.
“We’re touring areas that have not necessarily been touched recently, to say it politely” Christian added.
“It’s really a priority for President Trump and Administrator Linda McMahon to come out here and hear what’s important to people. They want to know how to make you succeed.”
“The bottom line is that we are so customer-focus oriented now, and our mantra really is infrastructure, partnerships, innovation, and customer service. To that end, you will be seeing us a lot more in rural regions of Pa.,” Coccodrilli added.
Christian – whose region serves a population of nearly 30 million through seven offices in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginal, Virginia, and the District of Columbia – has been traveling and meeting with entrepreneurs throughout the region.
“It’s important to showcase what SBA has,” Christian said.
“We do more than just loans. We do guarantee loans, but we also connect you with lenders that can give you the loans, we connect you to folks that can provide counseling, business plans. We have trainings called the Emerging Leaders Training where you go and basically you get a mini-MBA, and it can help you really run a business.”
“I’m also going around and talking to small businesses that have been affected by the tax cut, and it’s been very, very positive,” Christian said.
“We’re just trying to get out there and get feelers as to what is important. The regulations are a really big part of what I’m hearing small businesses, they’re concerned with the time and the effort and the money that it takes to comply, and it’s hindering them from expanding, and they’re a small business, they want to grow,” she continued.
“It’s not right when government is the block, so this government, this administration, wants to open those doors for businesses to grow.”
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