GLLC Speakers

Conference attendees can expect to learn from a variety of industry professionals including members of the Michigan, Ohio and Indiana SBA District Offices, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chambers, Loan Officers, City Mayors, and entrepreneurial support organizations.

2017 Speaker Biographies

Romualdo (Romy) Ancog

Acting Lead Lender Relations Specialist, SBA Michigan District Office
Romualdo (Romy) Ancog is a Lender Relations Specialist with the SBA’s Michigan District Office where he helps banks and borrowers structure loans with SBA finance products. Ancog also serves as the District International Trade Officer. He joined SBA in 2008, bringing 18 years of experience in commercial, international, private and small business banking. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and received his MBA from the University of Detroit.

Latifa Bradwell

Lender Relations Specialist, SBA Michigan District Office
Latifa joined the SBA’s Michigan District Office’s Lender Relations team in 2015. In her role as a Lender Relations Specialist, Latifa provides training and support to Michigan’s network of lenders. Prior to joining the SBA, she was the Deputy Director of the Tejara Global Business Development Center, a business incubator and accelerator in Dearborn, MI. Prior to that, she served as a Senior Business and Growth Specialist for the Michigan Small Business Development Center, a national program funded by the SBA, for over 15 years. Latifa earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan University and a BS in Accounting from Wayne State University.

Mark Brant

Market President, First Community Bank

Keith Brophy

State Director, Michigan SBDC

Jane Butler

Vice President, NAGGL
Jane Butler is the Executive Vice president of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL) where she is responsible for the association’s education program, and is a frequent instructor and speaker on topics related to all aspects of small business financing. She also helps to shape the association’s positions on issues impacting small business lending. Butler joined NAGGL in 2006 following a 30 year career with the U.S. Small Business Administration during which she worked in all of the Agency’s program areas including approximately 9 years when she headed its business loan programs including 7(a), 504 and the Microenterprise Development Program.

Chris Cook

Director of Capital Access, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Chris Cook joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in 2011 and currently serves as Director – Capital Access. In this role Chris oversees outreach and administration of a variety of programs designed to increase the availability of capital to companies operating in Michigan. The programs include the Collateral Support Program, Loan Participation Program, Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative, Capital Access Program, and Private Activity Bonding. Prior to joining MEDC Chris worked for Michigan Certified Development Corporation (MCDC) as a Credit Analyst. Chris earned a degree in Supply Chain Management from Michigan State University.

Sara Coulter

U.S. Department of Commerce
Sara Coulter Sara Coulter is the director of the Detroit U.S. Export Assistance Center for the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration—part of the U.S. Department of Commerce—and has been with the department for twenty-one of her 34 years of government service. She provides export counseling to small and medium sized busineses as they enter or expand in the global marketplace. Prior to joining the Commercial Service, she was a military personnel specialist with the Department of the Army, where she worked in a variety of positions and locations in the Midwest. Sara also served in the military, and is a graduate of the last class of the Women’s Army Corps. Sara obtained her Associate of Science Degree from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, and received her B.A. in Business from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. She also studied economics and business at Kansas State University.

Victor Cruz

Senior Representative, Colson Services Corporation
Victor M Cruz, Sr. Representative has been a leader for Colson’s client services team for 19 years. His commitment to his organizations core values of Client Focus, Integrity, Teamwork, and Excellence has earned him consistent recognition from the SBA, their lending partners, and Colson colleagues.
Since 2009 Victor has teamed with SBA staff throughout the country to coordinate valuable lender development through effective web-based training on the 1502 reporting requirement as a subject matter expert. He is a born and raised New York Brooklynite and enjoys extensive travel during time away from the business.

Ed Ekel

Regional Director, Exim Bank
Ekel is an international finance professional with extensive work experience in both the banking as well as the corporate sectors. He has been the head of trade finance and credit for a middle market telecommunications provider, a vice president with an Ex-Im Bank Delegated Authority Lender and has an extensive background in leasing. Ekel joined Ex-Im Bank in 2014 and directs Ex-Im Bank’s Small Business Division in Detroit.

Mike Flanagan

Director, Ann Arbor SPARK & Michigan Angel Fund
Mike Flanagan is Director of Capital Programs at Ann Arbor SPARK, which includes the Michigan Angel Fund, Michigan Pre-Seed Fund, and Microloan programs, all designed to help early stage technology companies and entrepreneurs in Michigan get the capital they need to grow and succeed. Prior to joining SPARK, Mike was Director of Equity Programs at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) responsible for the state’s venture capital, private equity, and mezzanine program investments through the 21st Century Investment Fund, Venture Michigan Funds, and Venture Development Fund. Prior to that, Mike held several other positions at MEDC including Director of Capital Markets, where he was instrumental in the design and management of multiple development finance programs across the capital continuum, including the Collateral Support, Loan Participation, Venture Development, Small Business Investment Tax Credit, and Small Business Mezzanine Fund. Mike also helped lead the application and fund raising process to secure $80 million for Michigan businesses through US Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), an evergreen fund that now supports many of the state’s development finance programs. Prior to joining the MEDC, Mike held several commercial banking roles at JP Morgan Chase Bank and Morgan Stanley for 10 years. Mike holds a BA and MPP/MPA from the University of Michigan and holds certifications from the Venture Capital Institute and Michigan Bankers Association. He is also a frequent speaker and panelist at economic development and industry events in Michigan and nationally.

Elliot Forsyth

Vice President of Business Operations, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
Elliot Forsyth is Vice President of Business Operations at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) where he is responsible for leading practice areas that include cybersecurity, technology acceleration, marketing, market research and business development.

The Center plays a lead role in coordinating and streamlining technology-related services to Michigan’s established industries and in assisting businesses to diversify into new and under-served markets.

As a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) affiliate, The Center has developed a state-of-the-art cybersecurity service for companies in the defense, aerospace and automotive industries. Over the past two years, Elliot led this effort and expanded his expertise in cybersecurity, supporting Michigan companies to safeguard their businesses and maintain regulatory compliance. As a result, Elliot has been quoted and interviewed by print, broadcast and online media outlets, as well as presenting at numerous conferences and events.

Prior to joining The Center, Elliot spent more than 20 years gaining broad, global business experience in high tech and manufacturing companies. He has a proven track record and practiced methodologies to transform global corporations for high growth and profitability.

Betty Hill


Julius Edwards

Manger of Underwriting and Incentive Structuring, MEDC
Julius has been with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for nearly 5 years underwriting and structuring incentives for complex commercial real estate transactions. His current title is that of Manager of Underwriting and Incentive Structuring. Overall, he has nearly 20 years of lending experience, working in the areas of Middle Market Lending, Affordable Housing, Broadband Based Startups, and Commercial Real Estate.

Thomas Kabel

Shareholder, Butzel Long
Thomas Kabel is a shareholder based in Butzel Long’s Bloomfield Hills office. He practices in the area of commercial real estate and real estate-related finance and has extensive experience representing commercial lenders and developers in conventional financing, bond, tax-exempt financing, and SBA loans. A NADCO certified SBA 504 Loan Closing Attorney, he closes nearly 24 SBA loans a year with the Oakland County Business Finance Corporation. Kabel is a member the State Bar of Michigan and is Co-Chair of the Special Committee on Commercial Leasing and Property Management. He is the author of Equitable Subrogation: Why the Refinance Lender’s Security Interest May Not be as Secure as it Thinks and speaks at numerous seminars.

Sheila Kreason

PTAC Counselor, MAF PTAC Region 3
Sheila Kreason is a Department of Defense / DLA PTAP Counselor with the Muskegon Area First Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), serving thirteen counties in west Michigan. In 2016, the Muskegon PTAC supported approximately $135M in client contract awards.

Sheila has more than 20-years of consulting experience which includes contract management in commercial development, federal construction, applied alternative & renewable energy technologies, and agri-business; with emphasis in feasibility analysis, financial pro forma development, and data analysis; spanning public and private sectors.

She provides technical assistance to businesses in government contracting procedures, policies, Federal Acquisition Regulations, cybersecurity compliance requirements, registrations and certifications, data analysis, marketing and communications, teaming and joint ventures, proposal preparation, and contract administration.
Sheila Has a Masters Certificate in Contract Management from The George Washington University School of Business, Washington, D.C. and a Bachelors in Business Management from Northwood University, Midland, Michigan, with a concentration in Accounting. She is currently preparing for the Certified Federal Contract Manager NCMA examination and continuing coursework with the Defense Acquisition University.
Sheila is a member of the national Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA), and the PTACs of Michigan.

In her spare time, Sheila is a life-long equestrian and advocate for saving our American wild horses. She also serves as the Board President for Blue Skies Farm, a Michigan nonprofit organization based in Howard City and providing statewide equine therapy programs.

Mike Kulka

CEO and Founder, PM Environmental
Mike Kulka is co-founder and serves as Chief Executive Officer of PM Environmental, Inc., a national full service environmental risk management firm. With over 28 years of industry experience, Kulka specializes in Environmental Due Diligence, Portfolio Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Transactional Real Estate and Complex Brownfield Redevelopment Project.

Kulka earned his B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Michigan State University and is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Michigan, Alabama and Georgia.
He is the National Client manager for numerous Fortune 500 financial institutions, retail chains, industrial conglomerates, and real estate developers. His experience includes directing complex environmental due diligence related to the financing, acquisition, brownfield incentive procurement, remediation and redevelopment of real estate for retail, commercial, industrial and multi-family housing.

He is also a Certified Underground Storage Tank Professional (C.P.) with the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and has worked on hundreds of UST assessment and closures. Kulka has presented on national panels within the environmental industry on topics such as Environmental Due Diligence, Brownfields, Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) cleanup funds and regulations, Compliance, and Complex Environmental Risk Strategies.

Key strengths include strategic planning, executive recruiting, and developing and maintaining national accounts in banking, private equity, petroleum, legal and real estate.

Debbie Lester

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Debbie Lester began her journey channeling her energy after graduating from Tuskegee University with a major in Business Administration. After marrying and moving to the Washington, DC area, Debbie furthered her education by obtaining a Masters in Finance from the University of the District of Columbia.

Debbie is the Assistant Center Director for the Portfolio Resolution Division (PRD) in Herndon, VA. Debbie has worked for SBA for over 12 years and manages a staff of 11 loan officers, 4 supervisors and 3 loan servicing assistants.

The PRD team is primarily responsible for the review and processing of 7A loans that are ready for Charge-off and payment of CPC expenses. The PRD team also reviews requests for Receiverships, Note sales, offer in compromises and other lender liquidation actions through our Loan Resolution mailbox.

The PRD team also assists our Birmingham/Treasury Division on disputes received from obligors after charge off, requests for loan documents, recalling loans from Treasury, and issues that may lead to a potential denial/repair of the remaining balance.

Kevin McCurren

Clinical Faculty, SBDC
J. Kevin McCurren is Clinical Faculty in Entrepreneurship at the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. He was the former Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at GVSU which included GR Current, a community life science and technology incubator and e-Merge West Michigan, an economic development organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in West Michigan.

Kevin has over 25 years of combined corporate and entrepreneurial experience. His start-ups have included a medical management company, a dental laboratory company, and several biomedical companies. As an investor, Kevin has been involved in several angel investment groups and venture clubs including the Grand Angels. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science and Master in Public Health and Health Services Management from the University of Missouri.

J. Kevin McCurren is Clinical Faculty in Entrepreneurship at the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. He was the former Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at GVSU which included GR Current, a community life science and technology incubator and e-Merge West Michigan, an economic development organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in West Michigan.

Tom McFadden

Lenders Relations Specialist, SBA
Tom McFadden works for the U.S. Small Business Administration as a Lender Relations Specialist. Previously, Tom was a Finance and Strategy Specialist with the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, where he worked as a consultant for small manufacturers throughout Michigan, helping them obtain working capital and other financing. Tom is seasoned commercial lender with over 20 years of experience, having worked for NBD Bank, Republic Bank and a de novo bank in Ann Arbor, MI. Tom holds an MBA degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with concentrations in Marketing and Finance and a BA degree from the University of Notre Dame where he majored in Economics and Government.

Linda McMahon


Scott Miedema

COO, Miedema Asset Management Group
Scott Miedema is the COO and co-founder of Miedema Asset Management Group, a family of specialized companies providing liquidation, appraisal, and consultative services to banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions across the United States since 1984. Scott and his brother, CEO Sid Miedema, were pioneers in the auction industry and have developed numerous asset management technologies that have transformed the auction industry and led to the company becoming a global auction leader.

Scott is a dedicated professional with over 30 years of invaluable, hands-on experience in auctions and liquidation services. He was inducted into the Michigan State Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 2005, one of the youngest auctioneers ever awarded this honor. He is a former President of MSAA and served 7 years on their Board of Directors. Scott also appeared on the A&E series “Hoarders” as a cited expert in auctions and appraisals.

As a frequently sought out and requested speaker, some of Scott’s engagements have included the National Auctioneers Association, Michigan State Auctioneers Association, Federal Bar Association, Risk Management Association, and many other professional organizations.

Today Miedema Asset Management Group consists of Miedema Auctioneering, Miedema Appraisals,,,, OAS,, SSL Corp LLC, and and employs over 180 throughout the United States. The Miedema companies conduct hundreds of live and online auctions annually generating over $100 million in sales and also conduct auctions for charities, raising millions of dollars for over 100 nonprofit and charitable institutions.

Tamara Morgan

Special Agent, SBA Office of Inspector General
Tamara Morgan, Special Agent, SBA Office of Inspector General In her role as Special Agent, Morgan investigates allegations of criminal, civil, and administrative violations of the SBA programs, program participants, and SBA personnel. Prior to SBA, Morgan was a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Justice where she investigated allegations of bribery, fraud, abuse, civil rights violations, and violations of other criminal laws and administrative procedures governing DOJ personnel. Morgan has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Howard University. She is a member of both the Michigan and Maryland State Bar Association.

David Newhouse


John O’Gara

Regional Manager, SBA U.S. Export Assistance Center
John O’Gara is the Regional Manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Export Solutions Group at the U.S.Export Assistance Center. He counsels and trains exporters in the areas of trade finance, deal structuring, payment methods and risk mitigation. He also markets SBA’s export finance programs to lenders in Michigan and Indiana.

Neal Patel

CBA, CVA and Principal, Reliant Value
Neal Patel, CBA, CVA is the Principal of Reliant Business Valuation, the most reputable business valuation and equipment appraisal firm for SBA related valuations nationwide. He is a Certified Business Appraiser through the Institute of Business Appraisers (IBA) and a Certified Valuation Analyst through the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). Neal is also the Chair of the IBA Board of Governors. Neal has extensive experience with small business valuations and financing, and firsthand ownership experience of multiple small businesses. This comprehensive experience helps him understand the intricacies of the businesses he appraises, while enabling him to add unique value to a nationwide roster of clients.

Lou Pham

Credit Risk Management, SBA
Lou Pham is the Team Lead for the East Region of SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program. Lou and his team of financial analysts manage risk and provide oversight of approximately 2,200 regulated institutions in the Eastern portion of the United States (Regions I-V) with an aggregate SBA portfolio balance of $40 billion.

Lou was previously Director in the Working Capital Guarantee Program at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, where he helped U.S. exporters obtain financing for their export projects by extending loan guarantees on asset-based loans.

Lou began his career in banking as a commercial lending officer at a super regional bank lending to a variety of businesses and industries.

Bradd Pierce

Senior Loan Officer, Economic Development Foundation
EDF Sr. Loan Officer-West Michigan / Kalamazoo / South East Michigan Bradd Pierce has over twenty-five years of commercial lending experience in West Michigan, including eight years with the Economic Development Foundation (EDF). Bradd started at the EDF in 2008 as a Loan Officer and Business Development Officer. In the previous 17 years, Bradd worked as a Commercial Loan Officer and Vice President for a small community bank as well as two Midwest- regional commercial banks, all with an emphasis on relationship sales. Bradd has extensive knowledge of the 504 Loan Program as well as a keen understanding of what a commercial banker’s expectation is when entrusting their client to the process. Bradd is very hands-on from the initial structuring of a deal until the deal is closed and funded.

Bradd graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Economics.

Lisa Preston

President, The Preston Group
Lisa Preston is President of The Preston Group, a financial consulting firm specializing in SBA loan program compliance, process improvement, and training. The Preston Group assists lenders with all facets of SBA lending in an effort to improve efficiencies and profitability, as well as, preparing for regulatory examinations. Ms. Preston has approximately 26 years of financial experience including over 10 years with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, establishing a commercial loan review department at a national bank, and working as an Examiner-In-Charge on behalf of the SBA conducting numerous Risk Based Reviews.

The Preston Group not only supports private sector clients but also has supported both the FDIC and SBA with government contracting. Ms. Preston has been a NAGGL and NADCO instructor for the past 8 years. She was awarded the Instructor of the year by NAGGL in November 2016.

Steve Price

Principal and Vice-President, PM Environmental
He specializes in transactional due diligence and risk management, with a focus on lending institutions and risk management, lender environmental risk policy development, implementation and training. Steve has 30 years of experience and has been involved in over 25,000 property transactions during his

Prior to joining PM in November 2004, he was the Environmental Affairs Officer for a large regional bank and involved in the environmental risk evaluation of real estate transactions of all types. Steve has written environmental policy for over 50 lending institutions with a combined total of over $150 billion in assets.

Joanne Rau

SVP and Business Banking Group Executive, Fifth-Third Bank

Raymond Milano

Veterans Affairs Specialist, SBA
Ray Milano has been part of the Small Business Administration team since 1999 and his various roles and responsibilities have provided him with a well-rounded depth of knowledge and understanding of SBA programs and services.

Ray currently serves as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD).

The mission of the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development is to empower veteran, service member, and military spouse self-employment and small business ownership.

In his role as Deputy Associate Administrator, Ray oversees the OVBD team in formulating, implementing and administering policies and programs that equip veteran, service member (active duty, National Guard, Reserve), and military spouses with mentoring, training, access to capital, and contracting opportunities.
Previous to his current post, Ray was the Director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center Program. As VBOC Director, Ray managed a network of twenty Veterans Business Outreach Centers, located throughout the U.S., which provide entrepreneurial training, counseling and mentoring to veterans and their family members.

Ray is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and a United States Marine Corps veteran.

Ken Rosenthal

Senior Advisor, CDC Capital Markets


  • Marketing SBA-504 Secondary Market Solutions
  • 26 years experience as Senior Loan Officer/Senior Advisor
    for CDC Small Business Finance/CDC Capital Markets
  • Funded over 1,000 SBA-504 loans for more than $2 billion
  • Former board member – National Association of
    Development Companies (NADCO)
  • NADCO Sales & Marketing Training Instructor

Community Involvement

  • Board Member, Health & Wellness Committee Chair – Kauai North Shore Community Foundation
  • Board Member & Treasurer – Princeville at Hanalei Community Association
  • Board Member & Vice Chair – Anaina Hou Community Park


  • MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship – Arizona State University — B.A. in Economics – University of California, Berkeley

Personal Accomplishments

  • Six-time U.S. National and World Aerobic Champion

Genevieve Sansom

Relationship Manager with Bank of New York Mellon
Genevieve Sansom is a Relationship Manager with Bank of New York Mellon in the Corporate Trust division. In that role, she provides on-site support to SBA as well as works on initiatives for the development of SBA One.

Tom Sangrik

Lender Relations, SBA
Thomas Sangrik is a Lender Relations/Economic Development Specialist and the District International Trade Officer (DITO) at the SBA’s Cleveland, Ohio District Office, which covers 28 counties in Northern Ohio. Tom’s territory includes the counties of Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Mahoning, and Trumbull, Columbiana, Carroll, and Jefferson Counties in Ohio.

Mr. Sangrik holds a bachelor’s degree in Business & Accounting from The Ohio State University and is a CPA in the State of Ohio. Thomas resides in Mentor, Ohio.

Jon Savoy

President, Lee & Associates – Michigan
For more than 39 years, Jon Savoy, CCIM, SIOR has diligently served a diverse group of clients. Due to his in-depth market knowledge and innovative options, Jon has consistently created winning real estate opportunities. Today, he specializes primarily in the southeast Michigan industrial and R&D real estate markets. In his extensive career, Jon has managed more than 1,700 industrial real estate transactions. He has been involved in the land acquisition, design and development of over 350 build-to-suit facilities and speculative buildings.

Widely recognized today as one of the top producers in the commercial real estate business, Jon began his career at a small brokerage company in Michigan and then moved successively to larger, more competitive national firms, including Colliers International, Signature Associates and Grubb & Ellis, where he served for over five years as the Senior Vice President, Director of Industrial Services. Jon has used his talent for understanding markets, brokering transactions and satisfying customers to build a strong sales track record.

Jon has been formally recognized for his achievements many times by his industry peers. The Michigan CCIM chapter named him “Michigan Broker of the Year.” He was honored as “Broker of the Year” by Oakland County, Michigan, as “Power Broker” by the CoStar Group, and as “Most Valuable Broker in Detroit,” by First Industrial Realty Trust. Midwest Real Estate News has honored Jon as one of its “Top Forty Over 40” for excellence in commercial real estate and has inducted him into the Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame as one of the top commercial real estate professionals in the Midwest.

Achieving another milestone in his career, Jon opened the Lee & Associates of Michigan office in May 2005. Since then he has served as a mentor and motivator for the professional brokers who have joined his team.

Jon wrote and published Your Lee & Associates Advantage, a comprehensive sales
and customer-management system which has been adopted nationally throughout the
Lee & Associates organization.

John Schmitt

Business Consultant, SBDC
John Schmitt has been a Business Consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center since 2007. Prior to his role with MI-SBDC, Schmitt was a serial entrepreneur opening a number of small businesses throughout Michigan over the past 30 years. These businesses have ranged from starting a restaurant, Food Dance Cafe, to a self storage facility, The StorRoom in Canton Michigan. John received the MI-SBDC Statewide Leadership Award for Business Consultants in 2009 and in 2016. Schmitt has served over 1000 clients during his tenure a Business Consultant for MI-SBDC

Matt Sherwood

Executive Director, VetBizCentral
Matt Sherwood, an Army veteran is the Executive Director for VetBizCentral. This organization was granted a three year grant in 2015, and is structured as a nonprofit 501- 3-C, which is funded by The US Small Business Administration, the organization is commonly referred to as a VBOC, or Veterans Business Outreach Center and is based out of Flint Michigan. The agency has been open for over 10 years and was one of the first Veteran Business Centers to be awarded grant funding in 2009 under the Office of Veteran Business Development within the SBA. VetBizCentral covers a three state region which includes Michigan, Ohio, & Indiana. The organization is one of 15 such centers located throughout the United States and Guam. VetBizCentral provides free business counseling to active military, Veterans, National Guardsmen, and Reserves. The organization conducts regional workshops on starting a business, marketing your business as “veteran owned” and also conducts networking events to help veteran business owners connect with Federal & State procurement agencies as well as Corporate America.

Matt earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and graduated cum laude from Baker College in Flint, he also holds a minor degree in Marketing Management from Mott College. Mr. Sherwood brings a high level of commitment to the organization and has focused his efforts on providing new veteran business owners his business insights and experiences. He also works with existing veteran business owners and helps them to develop strategic marketing strategies focused on leveraging ones status as Veteran; or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business.
Mr. Sherwood’s previous work experience in municipal government as well as the private business sector has provided him with a solid foundation to provide current and new client with some of the basic business skill sets which will be required by any successful business owner. Mr. Sherwood is passionate about helping his fellow veteran business owners be as successful as possible by helping clients understand and navigating the abundance of veteran entrepreneurial resources that exist to help them succeed.

2014 Veteran Volunteer of the Year.
2013 ESGR Employer of the Year for working with Veterans.
2010 US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Champion award for work related to helping veterans achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Mike Slater

President, Vital Financial
Mike’s work at VITAL is the culmination of more than 35 years’ experience that he brings to each and every client he serves. After years in the banking industry working for community banks, regional banks, and one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms, Mike saw the untapped potential in government guaranteed lending that resulted in the creation of a lender service provider company in 2006, which became known as VITAL Financial Services. He has helped community banks throughout the Midwest loan and protect millions of dollars that support local business while improving bank performance. Through VITAL Financial Services, he has cultivated proven processes and quality control measures that ensure complex SBA and USDA loans are done right, every time.

Ethan Smith

Partner, Starfield & Smith P.C., Attorneys at Law
Smith is a partner in the law firm of Starfield & Smith with a focus on government guaranteed lending, commercial lending, banking, real estate and commercial law and has closed thousands of government guaranteed loans. He assists lenders nationwide with SBA guaranty purchase issues and has been retained as an expert witness on SBA related litigation matters. Smith is a licensed title insurance agent for Chicago Title and Fidelity National Title in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is a member of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders and is a frequent speaker, and serves as a member of its Associate Member Committee. Smith is also an affiliate member of the National Association of Development Companies and is a member of its Attorney Advisory Council and is qualified as a designated closing attorney for the SBA 504 Program. He earned his B.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University and J.D. degree from the College of William and Mary School of Law.

Traci Smith

Business Programs Director for USDA Rural Development
Traci Smith is the Business Programs Director for USDA Rural Development, a federal agency serving the needs of rural Michigan residents through financial and technical assistance including direct loans, grants and guaranteed loans. She heads up the division specializing in Guaranteed Loans to a variety of businesses in nearly every industry, as well as Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Guaranteed Loans and Grants to farmers and small businesses. Over the years she and her staff have processed hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans and grants to private industry, non-profit groups and public entities throughout Michigan.

David Sowerby

CFA, Loomis, Sayles & Company

Marnie Spitzley

Underwriter, MCDC
Marnie Spitzley is an Underwriter for the MCDC. Marnie joined the MCDC staff during the summer of 2011. She interned with the company before becoming a full-time employee. Marnie’s responsibilities include financial analysis of loan applicants, eligibility determination, loan packaging, and approval. She is also the Government Relations Specialist for the MCDC Loan Programs.

Marnie graduated from Aquinas College in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Business and a minor in Accounting.

Edith Wiseman

President, FRANdata
FRANdata is the only independent research company that provides objective information, analysis and consulting about the franchising sector. Wiseman is a 16 year veteran of FRANdata. As President, she is responsible for sales, product development, and market strategy. She also leads FRANdata’s diversification into international and other vertical markets. Prior to her role as President, she spent the last five years as the Executive Vice President where she had a leadership role in the strategic growth of FRANdata’s Capital Access and Franchise Business Intelligence suite of solutions. Wiseman was recently named to the IFA Supplier Forum Board and has co- chaired the Women’s Franchise Network. She is a frequent speaker and has led industry roundtables as well as written articles for numerous industry publications.

Gary Witkowski

EDF Loan Officer, Economic Development Foundation
Gary Witkowski, Loan Officer, has over eleven years of experience in commercial finance including nine years at Economic Development Foundation (EDF). Gary started at EDF in 2007 as a Relationship Manager, where he was responsible for business development, loan approvals, and closings. After spending a year and a half at a local community bank, Gary came back to EDF in the fall of 2016 as a Loan Officer. He has extensive knowledge of the 504 Loan Program, and is the main point of contact for the lender and borrower throughout the entire SBA process.
Gary graduated from Northwood University’s Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management with an MBA degree, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Grand Valley State University.
Gary can be reached at (616)-323-1275 or

Mark Zeitlow

Zeitlow and Associates
Mark H. Zietlow is a Designated SBA 504 Closing Attorney, and has been closing SBA loans for many years. He has represented lenders, certified development companies, contractors, subcontractors and owners in closing construction loans. He has litigated and arbitrated construction disputes. Mark has a Law Degree, a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management, and a Master of Science in Taxation.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.