Newsmakers: SBA names FW businesswoman as Texas’ Person of the Year

Fort Worth businesswoman Deborah Paris, president and manager of StraCon Services Group LLC in Fort Worth, has been named the Texas Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Paris has over 20 years’ experience as an Integrated Product Team (IPT) member while working for various government services companies as well as with Bell Helicopter providing flight simulators for the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft for Marine Corps and Air Force clients. StraCon has been providing program management, training systems solutions, engineering, logistics, foreign military sales and other technical services solutions for the Department of Defense since 2008.

“We are proud to have two top Texas small businesses representing the Dallas/Fort Worth District, Deborah Paris of StraCon for being the Texas Business Person of the Year and Ms. Reginalea Kemp of Kemp and Sons, for being named 8(a)Graduate of the Year for SBA’s Region 6, which consist of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas,” said Herbert Austin, SBA’s Dallas/Fort Worth District director. Kemp and Sons is a Fort Worth company that specializes in providing janitorial services:

In 2010, Paris faced multiple challenges in obtaining capital for her business but she forged ahead by pursuing an SBA loan and was approved for $125,000. That same year, she became certified as a federal contractor by being accepted into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. This is a nine-year program that allows socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses to obtain set-a-side contracts with federal agencies.

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“StraCon has benefited from the mentorship provided by Mr. Kevin Sloan at SBA Business Opportunity Specialists (BOS) in the Dallas/Fort Worth SBA office,” said Paris. “His advice and counseling with developing long-term business strategies has and continues to be outstanding. Mr. Ahmad Goree, StraCon’s first SBA specialist, was also instrumental in encouraging me to apply for a unique opportunity called the e200 Emerging Leaders Program.”

SBA’s Emerging Leaders Executive Training Program is a free six-month course that trains small-business executives to become stronger and more profitable business owners. As part of a comprehensive curriculum, Paris was required to develop and present a three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan with benchmarks and performance targets to a guest panel. She spent well over 100 hours of classroom and CEO mentoring time and had the opportunity to learn new strategies and forge important relationships with other business owners. She graduated from the program in 2011.

This course helped Paris to develop business strategies that resulted in consistent and significant growth for StraCon over the next four years. StraCon has shown consistent increases in revenue between 2012 and 2016, despite limited federal funding. This plan was instrumental in helping StraCon grow from eight employees in 2010 to over 100 today

The SBA will honor small business owners at The Spirit of America: 2017 Salute to Small Business ceremony on May 4 at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

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Lauri Curtis Hadobas, Camp Fire First Texas’ chairman of the board, announced eight new board members beginning terms in 2017. They are:

Dianna Flores, district intervention specialist with the Arlington Independent School District and a licensed professional counselor; Donna James-Harvey, community volunteer; Lisa D. Mares, assistant general counsel at FirstCash Inc.; Travis Patterson, attorney with Patterson Law Group; Jared Treesh, senior vice president at Worthington National Bank; Brett Weeks, pilot with American Airlines; Corey Marie Weeks, attorney with the Law Offices of Corey Marie Weeks PLLC; and Drenda Williams Witt, freelance writer and editor


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Brandon W. O’Donald has been named a new practice leader of land development in the Fort Worth area for Pape‐Dawson Engineers Inc.

O’Donald’s local experience includes the American Airlines Center & Victory Plaza, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, five new Mansfield Independent School District elementary schools, and the FC Dallas Toyota Stadium and Soccer Center.

O’Donald holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas in Arlington. He is a registered professional engineer in Texas and is a member of the American Society of Professional Engineers and the American Planning Association.


Meredyth Barr Haller has joined Cook Children’s Health Foundation as the corporate partners specialist, responsible for corporate fundraising and engagement. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has been involved with numerous charitable organizations, committees and events in Fort Worth. Most recently, Haller worked for the Edwards family at Cassco Development Co., where she was director of residential sales and marketing and focused on overseeing the homeowners and property associations for both Riverhills and Clearfork in the Edwards Ranch development.


Adrian Harvey, senior vice president of operations at Buxton, has received the University of North Texas College of Business Rising Star award for 2017. The award recognizes College of Business alumni who have graduated in the past 2-10 years; have made significant contributions to their profession, society, and the university; and have shown exceptional growth in their profession.

Harvey joined Buxton in 2009 as a research analyst and has held numerous analytical and leadership positions. He oversees all of Buxton’s operations and is responsible for the development, integration and application of Buxton’s solutions. Harvey earned a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial management as well as a master’s degree in decision science from UNT.

Westlake Town Manager Tom Brymer received the 2017 Excellence in Economic Development award at the Site Selectors Guild’s annual conference.

Tarrant County College graduate Karmin Ramos received an Outstanding Student Award from The National Association of Home Builders during this year’s convention in Orlando, Florida. She was one of 28 students in the country to earn the recognition. She is continuing her studies at TCC and plans to study civil engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Weatherford attorney Mac Smith has merged his law office with Fort Worth’s Harris, Finley & Bogle P.C. “Mac and I have worked together for years, and we have tried some lengthy cases together in Weatherford and Fort Worth,” said Andy Sims of HFB. “He is a talented attorney and we appreciate the opportunity to work with Mac and his long-time assistant, Margaret Morris, and paralegal, Kim Cherryhomes.”

Send newsmakers to Robert Francis at