CHARLESTON, WV – A West Virginia small business owner and educator who started a learning center to provide behavioral treatment for children with autism was named the country’s small business person of the year on Thursday by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Jill Scarbro-McLaury, who owns Bright Futures Learning Services in Winfield, received the prestigious award during a virtual ceremony celebrating National Small Business Week. Scarbro-McLaury, who is the first person in West Virginia to receive the National Small Business Person of the Year Award, will be invited to the White House for an honorary event with SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman.
“I ask all West Virginians to join me in congratulating Jill on this prestigious achievement,” Gov. Justice said. “In West Virginia, we’ve worked hard to create an environment where people who want to run a small business can have the tools they need to chase their dreams. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Success takes passion and a desire to work hard – traits that define the Mountaineer spirit – and Jill is a shining example of this spirit. Her dedication to a wonderful cause and her skills as a small business owner are an inspiration to us all, and I could not be more proud to congratulate her as West Virginia’s first-ever winner of this national award.”
Scarbro-McLaury’s nomination for the award was submitted by the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC). A private award ceremony to celebrate Scarbro-McLaury and other West Virginia small businesses will be hosted by the WV SBDC and SBA on Friday in Fairmont.
“This award validates that taking care of people is always the right thing to do,” said Scarbro-McLaury. “Bright Futures exists to serve marginalized children and their families. By serving them, we help keep more young West Virginians home and we provide jobs for the best kinds of humans, the helping kind.”
The award isn’t the only recognition Scarbro-McLaury has received from the SBA. In April, she was named the 2022 West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year. In 2019, she was named the SBA’s West Virginia Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year.
“A great business person believes in what they are doing because they have a vision and a passion to do what is right,” said WV SBDC Regional Coordinator Doug Spauliding, who has worked with Scarbro-McLaury for several years. “Jill epitomizes the essence of this award. She has a passion to help children and families afflicted with the trials of autism. I am extremely proud of Jill and she is well deserving of this award.”
Scarbro-McLaury opened Bright Futures in 2007 to provide an Applied Behavior Analysis program for a family in need. The ABA program is valued for its effective treatment of autism, but it was nearly non-existent before Bright Futures opened. Since then, Bright Futures has grown from a one-woman business to a million-dollar company with 25 employees. In addition to improving the lives of children, the small business serves as a training facility for young professionals and has helped West Virginia’s population of certified ABA providers grow from 17 in 2011 to 65.
Small businesses employ more than half of the country’s workforce and create two out of every three jobs each year. Since 1963, the SBA has used National Small Business Week to recognize the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
For more information about starting a small business in West Virginia and resources for entrepreneurs, visit wvsbdc.com.