Host of MSNBC’s Your Business
“I think small business has just been a part of who I am,” said JJ Ramberg, 2011 Small Business Advocate of the Year. “It’s in my blood.” The host of MSNBC’s Your Business, cofounder of Goodsearch.com, and three-time emcee of NY Report’s Small Business Awards grew up in an entrepreneurial family. Ramberg’s mother, father, brother, husband, and both grandfathers were all entrepreneurs, so it seemed only natural that she took the same path.
As the host of Your Business, Ramberg profiles small business owners and offers resources and advice to viewers to use in their own businesses. As the cofounder of her own company, she often vets what’s featured on the show to make sure it’s helpful, practical, and inspirational. Likewise, the lessons she learns from running GoodSearch are often applied to Your Business. “Whether it’s the best way to word something in your marketing, the best way to handle a human resources issue, or the best way to deal with our finances,” she said. “I learn something every single day, and I try and take my lessons and talk to our audience about it. But on the flip side, I learn a lot from the people that I interview that I then bring home into my own company.”
In 2005, Ramberg founded GoodSearch, a Yahoo-powered search engine that donates to the charity of your choice every time you search. The website also encompasses GoodShop, a shopping portal that links to more than 2,500 retailers, including Amazon, Apple, and Target, giving a percentage of what you spend online at those stores to your favorite charity or school. Coupons and shipping offers are also featured on the site.
Ramberg also said that she is inspired every day by the people she interviews on Your Business, particularly since the economic crisis began a few years ago. “The small business people that I have met have been true role models as they’ve persevered in the face of really hard times,” said Ramberg. “I really feel lucky to be a part of this group, not only as someone recording and telling their stories, but as an entrepreneur myself.”
As someone who sees both sides of the story, Ramberg knows both the large and small issues that privately owned companies face. “What I find is that a lot of small business owners feel lonely. When you run your own small business, you often don’t have somebody to talk to. Small business owners need resources to help them deal with everyday issues,” she said. “There are a thousand things that come up every single day for them and it’s very helpful to talk to somebody who’s been through it.”
Although MSNBC doesn’t give out specific viewership numbers, as a whole the channel reaches 95.2 million US households. International exposure comes from Orbit TV, CNBC Asia, MSNBC Canada and the Armed Forces Network, along with Sirius XM Radio. Your Business, which has been on the air since 2006, includes one taped piece a week, which focuses on one or two businesses.
It’s only fitting that Ramberg receive the Small Business Advocate award for 2011. “I’ve been a part of this event for the past few years and so I know what an honor it is,” she said. “I do this job because I love it and because I’m so interested in it. To be recognized for it is just really nice and the icing on the cake.”
President and CEO, New York Business Development Corporation
Patrick MacKrell, president and CEO of the New York Business Development Corporation and 2011 Small Business Advocate of the year, has had a slightly unusual introduction to the business world. When MacKrell was a freshman in college, he joined the Marine Corps. He was commissioned in 1975 and left active duty in 1986, as a Major.
“The leadership training, and then ultimately the leadership opportunities, that I had in the Marine Corps have framed my whole life,” said MacKrell. After he left active duty, he practiced commercial law for 15 years. He was a managing partner with a firm who represented NYBDC when he was asked to take a larger role in the organization.
Formed in 1955, NYBDC provides loans to businesses that are unable to get financing from conventional lenders, either because they’re start-ups, turning the corner after a period of financial difficulty, or involved in industries that have high historic failure rates.
What some don’t know about NYBDC is that the organization is owned by banks. Nearly each bank doing business in New York State is a member of NYBDC and provides funding to lend to small businesses. “When people were saying, ‘The banks aren’t lending,’ that was just wrong,” said MacKrell. “Banks were lending to credit-worthy borrowers and also provided continued financial support to NYBDC so that we could increase our lending to businesses that were marginal. The banks in New York State have lent us billions of dollars over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars, so that we could re-lend that money to small business.” Whereas some banks may turn down a loan for a particular reason, “The banker’s next sentence is, ‘But we do support NYBDC so that the risk can been shared among the whole banking community,’” he said.
Michelle Court is the managing editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com.