Eastern Alumna Wins 2 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

LaToya Smith (left) was named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Here she stands with Lizbeth Rodriguez, advisor with SBDC.

Eastern Connecticut State University graduate LaToya Smith ’06 has been named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Smith is the CEO and founder of Brass City Media, Inc., located in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 2006 with degrees in communication and history. Smith received a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University in 2008.

The SBDC recognized Smith at its annual awards dinner on April 30 in Ithaca, NY. The SBA ceremony occurred on May 7 at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City.

LaToya Smith offers tips on how to market your business to aspiring entrepreneurs in New York City.

“My undergraduate experience at Eastern helped shape my career and professional life,” said Smith. “I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and skills that I learned from my professors and my former employers in the offices of Financial Aid and University Relations, and in the Department of History. I’m incredibly blessed to have such a huge community of love and support.”

“These two SBA and the SBDC Young Entrepreneur Awards being presented to LaToya are the result of her business vision, dedication and focus, along with her ability to incorporate the resources and experts that have helped her to take her business to the next level,” said Lizbeth Rodriguez, SBDC business advisor. “As her business advisor, I am so very proud of this top-of-the-line, well-deserved recognition for LaToya.”

“This truly is an honor,” said Smith. “SBA has been an incredible resource to me. My SCORE (“Service Corps of Retired Executives”) mentors helped me incorporate my business and have been with me every step of the way. SBDC helped me refocus my business and expand it beyond a service-based business.”

SBA and SBDC’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” award “recognizes business owners under age 40 who have demonstrated a substantiated history as an established business that fosters local economies by creating job opportunities; has shown an increase in sales, net profit, and/or net worth for the three prior calendar years; and supports their neighborhood through community-oriented projects.”

“LaToya has shown remarkable growth and ingenuity in delivering her products or services,” said Beth Goldberg, SBA New York district director. “She has taken all that she learned as a journalist and in building her own brand, helped other entrepreneurs tell their stories more effectively.”

A native of Waterbury, CT, Smith is launching a new platform this fall as a direct result of the guidance of her SBDC business advisor and the SBA. “With SBA and SBDC’s support, I hope to reach profitable new markets that will ensure the growth of my company. Equally as important is their advice, which has unleashed excellent, new ideas that will help me carry out a plan on which I place very high value-making wise investments to better increase employment opportunities in the community.”

Smith has used SBA’s free live webinars, on-demand trainings and in-person events to improve her business finances, marketing, sales and operations. She also worked with the Local Development Corporation of East New York (LDCENY), a city agency under SBA, to receive her Minority and Woman Business Enterprise Certification (M/WBE), which provides increased access to government contracting opportunities.

Written by Dwight Bachman