WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., today congratulated Bob Baker for receiving the Small Business Owner of the Year award for Louisiana. Baker is the President of Baker Sales, a pipe and fence distributor in Slidell, La. He is joined by entrepreneurs from throughout the country this week in Washington, D.C., as part of U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) National Small Business Week and will be presented the award tonight as part of the Small Business Week program.

“Bob is a shining example of how an SBA loan can be used to grow and strengthen a business. He is a role model to small businesses across the nation,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Like so many entrepreneurs, Bob has weathered tough times and used SBA programs to get ahead. He remains dedicated to his employees and continues to preserve his optimistic spirit. I congratulate Bob for his success and hope others will be encouraged by his hard work.”

Baker originally came to Louisiana to work for the Apollo Space Project and received a Masters of Business Administration from Loyola University. After finishing the project and his graduate work, Baker stayed in the state to work at a local steel pipe distributor. When that company was braving difficult times, he decided it was time to work for himself. He started Baker Sales in 1978.

Through consultation sessions with SCORE and Small Business Development Center personnel, Baker positioned his business to obtain a $550,000 SBA loan in 2000 and another $400,000 loan in 2002 to cover working capital and operation costs.

“When I started my business over thirty years ago, it, like now, was a tough time to get financing, but I can clearly remember the very beneficial assistance I received from the SBA in New Orleans, and the counseling I received from SCORE, in helping me get a loan,” Baker said. “More recently my company has worked closely with our local Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) for business consultation. The LSBDC also provides outstanding educational seminars which have greatly benefited Baker Sales, Inc. They are an exceptionally good resource for which we are very grateful.”