Each year, the Maine SBA gives the award to a Maine entrepreneur who is not yet 30 years old, based on the nominated firm's success at increasing sales and profits; providing employment opportunities through the company; using innovative business tactics, and demonstrating the entrepreneurial potential for long-term success. The entrepreneur must have owned the business for at least three years.
"It is such an honor to be recognized by the Small Business Administration, when there are so many other exciting, innovative businesses in Maine being run by younger people," said McKinnell, who is 26 and lives in Westbrook. "At a time when the economy has been really hard on young people, I feel fortunate to have been able to both build a career and to grow the iBec team."
McKinnell recently hired two additional employees, and now has a five-person staff working at an office in Portland's Old Port district. These additions reflect the growth of iBec Creative, which has been rapidly adding clients, both within Maine and as far away as California, and introducing new services such as the development of websites optimized for smart phones.
The SBA award is the latest of several honors that McKinnell has received for her company's innovative business practices and success at helping a growing number of clients meet their design needs. Last year, McKinnell was named one of top 25 young entrepreneurs in the country by BusinessWeek, and also has been praised through a proclamation in the U.S. Senate.
"Young people who are thinking about whether to take the leap and start a business should really consider it," McKinnell said. "There is a lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs who follow their dream and work hard at making it a reality."