City to recognize two SBA winners

Lupita Cordova of Chico's Restaurant and Donna Wright of the MidAmerica Minority Business Development Council will be honored at 9 a.m. today at the Wichita City Council meeting as the winners of the 2010 Small Business Week award from the Wichita District Office of the Small Business Administration.

A reception will follow at the SBA office at 271 W. Third St., Suite 2500.

Cordova is owner of Chico's Restaurant, at Maple and Tracy; Wright is vice president of the development council.

Cordova's grandfather and father opened Chico's in 1974. She took it over from her uncle in 1999.

"I've been at the restaurant since I was 2," said Cordova, who's 38. "My mom said I used to hide under the tables because I hated being there."

She oversaw its expansion and move from Douglas and West Street to its current location at Maple and Tracy in 2007.

"We went from seating 22 to seating 112," she said. "It's been an excellent move — (and) a lot more work."

Using the SBA, she got long-term financing for the project through Garden Plain State Bank, which nominated her for the award.

In addition to expanding her business, Cordova is active at Bryant Elementary School and Christ the King church, and with her 7- and 11-year-old sons' soccer teams.

As vice president of the Minority Business Development Council, Wright heads its Wichita office, a job she's had for four years. The council is a business development organization that works to link majority-owned companies with minority businesses for subcontracting opportunities.

Wright was nominated by Victor White, director of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.

"I've been working with them for probably the last year, trying to help them in their outreach processes," Wright said. The focus has been on including more minority business owners in a planned new terminal building at Mid-Continent.

Wright recently coordinated two networking events for the Wichita Airport Authority to raise awareness of prime and subcontract business opportunities.

Through the council, she is also involved in certifying minority-owned businesses.