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National Small Business Week kicks off at Office Depot's headquarters

The U.S. Small Business Administration held the kickoff of National Small Business Week 2015 at Office Depot's headquarters in Boca Raton on Monday.

For more than 50 years, the SBA's National Small Business Week has aimed to honor small businesses, entrepreneurs and small business advocates. The SBA also encourages consumers to "shop small" during the week between May 4-8 to support them.

"When you think about small business, you think about the American dream," said Steve Calkins, executive vice president of the Office Depot Business Solutions Division during the event's opening remarks. "On behalf of the company and the U.S. Small Business Administration, I’d like to welcome you to Small Business Week."

The event started with a panel discussion on funding a small business moderated by Althea Harris, assistant district for marketing and outreach with the SBA South Florida District Office. Panelists included Peter Salas, the Miami/Fort Lauderdale Regional Manager of JPMorgan Chase; Bob Naples, a counselor at Score; Pamela Stewart, President of Paragon Florida; and Toula Amanna, owner of Flashback Diner, which started as a small business and has multiple locations.

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Paragon is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and relending intermediary of the U.S. Small Business Administration dedicated to providing comprehensive financial services, training and asset development for businesses in Palm Beach County, FL. Paragon provides access to capital through its loans to businesses that demonstrate a strong business model, an experienced management team and the potential to thrive and grow.