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Small business owners take center stage, praised by Capito

August 13, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Rosa Noriega had a translator by her side Tuesday, but a response she gave to one question transcended any language barrier.

"Muy bien. Excelente!" Noriega said, responding to a question about how Martinsburg has treated her and her business, Vivo Mexico, a Mexican restaurant in Inwood, W.Va.

Noriega was one of eight local entrepreneurs recognized during a reception Tuesday afternoon at the Small Business Development Center at the Community and Technical College of Shepherd in Martinsburg.

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U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was on hand for the reception.

A successful entrepreneur will have energy, effective planning and funding, she said. "When it gets right down to it, that's where the rubber meets the road, so to speak," Capito, R-W.Va., said.

Capito can commiserate, since she hears stories from her sister, who is an entrepreneur in the cell phone industry in Charleston.

"I have great admiration for all of you," she told the entrepreneurs.

Along with Noriega, the other entrepreneurs recognized were Barbara Bradley, owner of Nutmeg Lodge; Elizabeth and John Hostler, owners of Greensburg Bed & Biscuit; Carolyn Miller, owner of Curves For Women and Serenity Day Spa; Regina Northcraft, owner of Betty's Restaurant; Marty Smoots, owner of Smoot's Water Gardens; Manuel Washington, owner of Grove's Cleaning Services, Janitors Closet and UNIQUE Consultants and Training; and Bryan Witchey, owner of The Equipment Lock Co.

"There are many more (successful entrepreneurs). This is just a sampling," said Christina Lundberg, program manager for the Small Business Development Center.

Noriega came to the United States from Mexico in 1980 and to Martinsburg in 1989. Although she dreamed of owning a business, the dream was put on hold as she raised her five children.

Since opening Vivo Mexico in 1999, Noriega has expanded the business and now serves 90 to 120 meals on any given day.

Northcraft, owner of Betty's Restaurant in Shepherdstown, W.Va., bought the eatery two years ago.

A previous manager of 7-Eleven stores, Northcraft said a big challenge was switching from retail to food preparation. Not only did she have to learn how to prepare food, she also had to prognosticate what food would be needed on certain days.

"Do it," is her advice to anyone contemplating opening a business.

Washington, owner of three custodial-related businesses, has been in the industry - which he calls "environmental services" - for more than 20 years.

He recommended that potential entrepreneurs learn all they can about the industry, find a mentor and accept the fact that it's not going to be a 9-5 job.

"It's going to take not only hard work but discipline, perseverance and persistence and long hours," he said. One important piece of advice, he said, is to "be honest and deliver what you promise."

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