Every year, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) honors outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and resource providers during National Small Business Week. During Small Business Week this year (April 29 to May 5) the Nevada District office of the SBA will recognize 2018 honorees at a luncheon in Las Vegas on May 3.

Mehdi Zarhloul, owner and founder of Crazy Pita Rotisserie & Grill, has been named SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Nevada. For a complete list of honorees, visit the SBA Nevada web page.

This year’s SBA award for Nevada Entrepreneurial Spirit in rural Nevada goes to Mary Kerner, CEO of Rural Nevada Development Corporation (RNDC). RNDC is a 501(c)3 non-profit serving Nevada’s 15 rural counties, rural areas in Clark and Washoe counties, and Nevada’s 27 Native American tribes. Shirley Alen-Kellerman, AVP/Small Business Officer at Nevada State Bank, serves as first chair for RNDC. She explained that Nevada State Bank and other financial institutions refer loan applicants to RNDC if they don’t meet bank financing guidelines, to see if they might qualify for assistance from the non-profit.

RNDC manages a pool of funds that is used to make loans to small businesses in its target areas, whether they need capital to start or expand a business, refinance debt, or help with cash flow. In addition to funding from Nevada State Bank through a line of credit, RNDC receives funding from other financial institutions and from federal agencies such as USDA-Rural Development, the Economic Development Administration, and the Small Business Administration. Kerner said the agency provides an average of $1.8 million each year to small businesses. “The RNDC loan funds significantly address the capital gap for rural businesses, and leverage bank participation in rural business loans,” she said.

“Financial institutions send us referrals of businesses that can’t qualify for a regular bank loan,” she explained. “Ideally, after receiving a loan from RNDC, as well as counseling and advice, a business will improve enough financially that it will be able to get a loan from their bank to pay off the RNDC loan. Then we can put those funds back into the pool and loan them out to another company.” 

In addition to business loans, RNDC also assists low-income rural homeowners with home repairs to address health and safety issues like asbestos or lead paint removal, energy conservation and weatherization measures, or handicap accessibility needs, such as wheelchair ramps and bathroom modifications. Some assistance is provided free of charge, due to funding from federal and state agencies. Kerner said its housing programs provided $1.2 million in aid last year.

She concluded, “Nevada State Bank is a true champion of RNDC, instrumental in helping us deploy dollars to businesses in Nevada, not just by referrals and board representation, but also by being a funding source and banking ally.”


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A. Member FDIC