Greenbank resident Earl Overstreet is the recipient of the 2016 8(a) Graduate Award of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Awarded to the highest achieving graduates of the Business Development Program, an assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses, Overstreet was chosen due to the overall successes of his business, Bellevue-based IT company General Microsystems Inc.
“It is an honor to be recognized by this award,” Overstreet said. “It inspired me to reflect on a 33-year journey and be very thankful for our great employees, customers and suppliers.”
Overstreet led his company through many reinventions over the years while sustaining excellent financial performance, customer engagement and community involvement as well as overcoming adversity, according to a news release.
He entered his company into the program in 1991, graduating in 2000.
The 8(a) program offers a range of hands-on assistance for socially and economically disadvantaged business owners who own at least 51 percent of a business. It offers access to government contracts and participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage, according to recent press release.
Overstreet began General Microsystems Inc. in 1983 as a personal computer products reseller but the company has reinvented itself to keep up with changing technologies. While Overstreet was confident of success, securing lending was a challenge.
“What I didn’t count on was the six months to land the first order (for $35), or that is was virtually impossible for a first-time business owner to get a loan in a recession,” he said. “We survived a difficult year, relying primarily on savings to cover business and personal expenses.”
The contracts available through the program allowed Overstreet to build working capital, staff, facilities and infrastructure and overall capabilities.
“The 8(a) program is designed to help a small business grow through hands-on business development assistance,” said U.S. SBA Seattle District Director Nancy Porzio in the press release. “Seeing a business successfully take part in that program and continue to grow and thrive is what the SBA is all about and we are so proud of Mr. Overstreet.”
General Microsystems has received multiple awards focused on both the business and technical side of what they do, including recognition from the University of Washington, King County, the Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council, and a local Fortune 500 business, the release said.