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Capital Region Entrepreneurs Named as 2023 Small Business Person of the Year and Women in Business Champion in Upstate New York

Pictured: US Small Business Administration Upstate New York District Director Bernard J. Paprocki, Women in Business Champion Mary Malone McCarthy, Small Business Person of the Year Trent Griffin-Braaf, and US Small Business Administration Atlantic Regional Administrator Marlene Cintron.

SBA Regional Administrator, Upstate New York District Director awarded local businesses during National Small Business Week

ALBANY, N.Y. – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Upstate New York District has awarded its 2023 Small Business Person of the Year Award to Mr. Trent Griffin-Braaf, owner of Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle in Cohoes, NY and its 2023 Women in Business Champion Award to Mary Malone McCarthy to M3 Placement & Partnership in Albany, NY.

SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator Marlene Cintron and SBA Upstate New York District Director Bernard J. Paprocki presented the awards at the SBA Albany Office as part of National Small Business Week. They were joined by U.S. Representative Paul Tonko and Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.

According to District Director Paprocki, the SBA Upstate New York District selected Trent Griffin-Braaf as Small Business Person of the Year not only for his success creatively pivoting his transportation business during the pandemic but also for his commitment to community service. Griffin-Braaf provides complimentary transportation to those in need and offers guidance to minority and women entrepreneurs.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Griffin-Braaf served a prison sentence and decided to change the direction of his life. He started Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle in 2016 to serve people in the Greater Capital Region who might not otherwise have transportation. For example, the company helps workers get to their nighttime jobs after the bus stops running.

“As a small business owner, more specifically a Black small business owner, I’m happy to do the work in the community that we do. We believe the services we provide around transportation and logistics are important to the communities we aid. We take pride in being able to contribute to the local economy and provide job opportunities,” said Griffin-Braaf. “I personally feel a sense of satisfaction being an asset to our region, understanding in my youth I was more a liability, and now I get to right some of the wrongs I once did.”

Since its founding, Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle has grown from a small office to a 1,500 square foot space with a parking lot. The pandemic interrupted the company’s consistent financial growth when the 2020 shutdown prevented many of Griffin-Braaf’s clients from attending normal activities. But again, Trent found opportunity in adversity and began offering transportation services for food and medical supplies.

Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle also received an SBA Microloan in 2020 from Pursuit to refinance existing debt and fund working capital, helping the business retain employees. SBA Microloans are smaller-size loans provided through SBA funding intermediaries like Pursuit, which offers SBA business loans in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

In 2022, Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle hired seven more employees and grew revenue 100 percent.

Mary Malone McCarthy was selected as SBA’s Women in Business Champion of the Year for her unwavering commitment to women entrepreneurs. As the founder and Chief Executive Officer of M3 Placement & Partnership, McCarthy has not only grown her own small business through leadership rooted in prioritizing people, but she also generously shares her experiences and personal connections with other woman founders. McCarthy serves as a thought leader in the business community, and her mentorship has been foundational to the success of many other woman-owned businesses.

“It is an honor to be recognized as the SBA Women in Business Champion and celebrate today’s recognition in honor of the many amazing female mentors I have had in my life, both personally and professionally, as well as the exceptional team at M3,” said McCarthy. “M3’s success is based in an unwavering commitment to exceed our clients’ expectations by delivering impactful results around recruiting and retaining top talent. We recognize the high importance of helping companies create a healthy, strong and vibrant workplace, which in turn impacts their ability to attract and retain great talent.  I am immensely grateful and energized by this honor and to have had the opportunity to mentor and celebrate the great success of so many other female leaders.”

McCarthy grew up in a family business and learned the singular importance of caring about people from her father, the CEO of a telecommunications company. She founded her company in 2012 on a people-first foundation, which shines through every aspect of her business and community work.

For example, M3 Placement & Partnership received an SBA COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan and an SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan, which McCarthy used to develop free resources and support services for clients and individuals navigating the challenges of COVID.

Her approach not only allows her to do the right thing but also drives business success. Last year, McCarthy expanded her business from five to 15 employees, grew their service offering and doubled revenue, all while continuing to provide free coaching to entrepreneurs and giving back to her community.

SBA Upstate New York District Director Bernard J. Paprocki commended Griffin-Braaf and McCarthy for their small business success and dedication to their communities. “Our two winners today exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit we need for our region’s economic growth and resilience. Their commitment to running businesses rooted in their personal values has fostered success and growth of their own businesses and made an impact throughout the ecosystem and beyond,” he said. “Trent and Mary Malone have provided valuable mentorship to other minority and women entrepreneurs, helping them to start and grow new business and add even more jobs to the Capital Region. Their service and contributions to not only their fellow entrepreneurs but also to the entire community are what made their nominations stand out among the many we received this year.”

“I am thrilled to be in Albany to celebrate National Small Business Week and honor our award winners Trent Griffin-Braaf and Mary Malone McCarthy. The SBA is meeting small businesses where they are and this event allowed our best and brightest Upstate entrepreneurs to understand that this administration is investing in their businesses as they propel themselves and the nation forward,” said SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator Marlene Cintron, who oversees SBA in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Upstate New York’s 2023 Small Business Person of the Year was selected from nominees across the district’s 34 counties. SBA Upstate New York provides small business owners with access to business counseling, capital, federal contracting programs and disaster assistance.

The Small Business Person of the Year Award is part of National Small Business Week, held this year from April 30 through May 6.


About National Small Business Week

For nearly 60 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.  More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.  As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit