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SBA administrator tours UEC Electronics

SBA Administrator Karen Mills toured UEC Electronics in Hanahan today. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
SBA Administrator Karen Mills toured UEC Electronics in Hanahan today. (Photo/Leslie Burden)

By Matt Tomsic
Published Jan. 24, 2013

Today, UEC Electronics’ president walked a dozen people — including the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration — through its Hanahan facilities, pointing out projects for the Marine Corps, Air Force, Cummins Engine Co., Bosch, the Boeing Co. and other customers.

“How much did you clean up for us?” asked Administrator Karen Mills at the end of the tour, adding everything looks neat and clean.

“It actually looks like this all the time,” said Rebecca Ufkes, UEC’s president.

“We call this our dirty building,” said Nancy Straight, business development manager for UEC.

After the tour, Mills spoke with employees in a conference room, praising the business and the work it does. Earlier, she noted UEC earned a spot in the SBA 100, which recognizes small businesses that had grown by 100 or more employees. UEC now employs 194, an increase of 49% since August 2011.

Mills said UEC proves the country can’t count out American manufacturing, and suppliers like UEC provide innovative design and modular solutions to the U.S. government and other businesses. More than half of UEC’s work is with the federal government.

“This is one of the president’s priorities,” Mills told employees. “I’ll be talking about you guys for weeks and weeks and weeks.”

Mills decided to tour UEC because it’s had a relationship with the Small Business Administration and was chosen for the SBA 100.

UEC hadn’t received financing from the administration, but the Mentor-Protégé Program and the small business development support have helped the company.

Ufkes and Mills also talked about another program, QuickPay, which pays government contractors and subcontractors more quickly.

“One of the biggest complaints was the small businesses weren’t getting paid,” Mills said, adding the government created policy to pay its contractors within 15 days then require contractors to pay subcontractors within another 15 days.

Ufkes said UEC noticed their payments arrived faster, and the policy boosted the company’s cash flow while helping it plan better for future work. Once the policy began, Straight said, the first invoice cleared in about four days.

Those and other measures, Mills said, work to boost small businesses in the country and to bring jobs back to the U.S.

“We know that we have very capable manufacturers here,” Mills said. “We don’t have to cede this territory.”

Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.