The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrated its 70th anniversary Tuesday with help from Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Colorado business owners, and several SBA employees and executives. 

With more than 60 people in attendance, Amy Carnrick, president and CEO of Foster’s Plumbing, and Adam Schlegel –– founder of Snooze an A.M. Eatery –– were honored along with Oscar Perez and Rocio Aguilera of Tacos de Tapatio and Brandon Knudsen, founder of Ziggi’s Coffee.

Schlegel –– and his brother, Jon, who was not in attendance –– was awarded as SBA Colorado’s 70th Anniversary Legacy Honoree. Perez, Rocio, and Knudsen were inducted into the 2023 Wall of Fame.

The SBA Wall of Fame (Photos: Maya Ced

Past Colorado Wall of Fame inductees –– from Marczyk’s Fine Foods, Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company, and Comedy Works –– were also expected to be in attendance, according to a news release.

The SBA, which was created in 1953 after the Great Depression and World War II, seeks to, among other things, “aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns,” according to its website.

“I want to be candid about how excited I am to be here for the birthday,” Hickenlooper said during his speech at the event. “I think, you know, it matters to celebrate moments when you’ve really been successful and you’ve done great things. This is the only agency dedicated to entrepreneurs and innovators in our federal government, a place where there’s support for people who have that inclination to start something, or to find a new way of doing something,”

At the end of his speech, Hickenlooper also lauded Biden’s decision to keep the Space Command in Colorado.

Amy Carnrick

Hickenlooper used SBA financing in 1988 to open the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the state’s first brew pub, SBA Colorado District Director Francis Padilla said. He also serves in the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which oversees the SBA and affiliated programs.

Hickenlooper and his constituents also introduced the Native American Entrepreneurial and Opportunity Act of 2023 to the Senate, a bipartisan bill that would establish an office of Native American Affairs in the SBA.

Carnrick was honored as the 2023 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year, an award granted to someone who –– as stated on SBA’s national award guidelines –– exemplified their “success in business as well as contributions to their local communities.” 

For Carnrick, receiving the award was a surprise.

“It was very unexpected and exciting. It’s a great honor to be recognized as an entrepreneur, I think that’s every entrepreneur’s dream,” she said in an interview with the Colorado Times Recorder. “I certainly didn’t expect a national type of award, so it was a lot of fun to go into the White House, meet the vice president, president, and sit in the Rose Garden. … It’s just really, really a treat.”

Hickenlooper embraces Schlegel after Schlegel received the award

And Schlegel told the Colorado Times Recorder that it was a “dream” to be named the 70th Anniversary Legacy Honoree.

“Our dream, my brother’s dream, it really wouldn’t have been possible without the SBA’s assistants to help throughout all these years and as we continue to grow, ” he said. “And I obviously have tremendous admiration, as we stand here on this wall and know a number of these amazing entrepreneurs. To be associated with that is humbling,”

And the award had added significance coming from Hickenlooper, Schlegel said. 

“What an honor to receive it from the senator, given not only his SBA background but just his hospitality background — and someone that we just have so much admiration for. So, that was certainly a special treat to receive it from the senator,” he said.