SBA Small Business Awards 2020 - 1

Desert Building & Design, Inc. President Jose Yepez, Jr. (center) poses with SBA San Diego District Director Ruben Garcia (left) and SBA Associate Administrator/SBA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Michael Vallante (right) as Yepez accepts the award for Minority-Owned Business of the Year at the 2020 SBA and SBDC Small Business Awards held virtually Wednesday, September 23.

SAN DIEGO – Jose Yepez Jr. and his Calexico-based construction business, Desert Building & Design, Inc., was the sole recipient from the Imperial County during the 2020 Small Business Administration & Small Business Development Center’s Small Business Awards in San Diego.

The Small Business Awards honored Desert Building & Design, Inc. and Yepez as the Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year at their virtual ceremony, broadcasted live on YouTube on Wednesday, September 23, as part of National Small Business Week.

Business organizations, lending institutions, chambers of commerce and trade associations typically nominate candidates, according to a press release. Yepez and Desert Building was nominated by Imperial Valley native and former Calexico-resident, Frank Luna, of PTAC, the San Diego, Orange, Imperial Procurement Technical Assistance Center located at Chula Vista’s Southwestern College.

“We nominate folks based on their accomplishments of course, and Mr. Yepez has done the necessary accomplishments to grow his business and truly do economic development for the area,” Luna said in an interview.

Luna said Yepez utilized the governmental economic development programs through PTAC and the Small Business Development Center, which enabled his business to get certifications which “set him apart from the rest.”

Luna said Yepez was able to certify his business for minority enterprise, small business enterprise for public works and disadvantaged business enterprise, which are all classifications for small businesses by the federal and state governments.

This, Yepez said, has enabled his company to be one of the first general construction contractors who will be able to work in federal contracting projects.

It means that it’s paving the way for me to open my business up for more work in the Valley,” he said. “I know I’m going to be able to hire more employees if I have more business going so I’m very grateful that there’s a recognition for small businesses.”

Yepez said he is very humbled to receive the SBA Awards recognition, calling the award and a “nice silver lining” in the face of the current COVID-19 challenges for businesses.

“They're really doing a lot to promote small businesses in these times so I've been very, very, much blessed that the Small Business Association has helped me out through the process,” Yepez said, thanking Luna for the nomination.

Yepez also said it was also significant to win as a minority-owned business in the current climate, saying “you have to work twice as hard to get where you need to and there are disadvantages, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”

“It’s not only challenging for us minority owners but getting a recognition and being certified a minority helps us get through the bidding process in saying, ‘Hey, we’re open for business too. I may not be a big guy but this little guy is willing to go out there and work with his people to make a difference,’” Yepez said.

“With this recognition, I fully believe that it does help us go a long way,” he said.

Luna said he hopes more businesses in the Valley will take advantage of the free PTAC and SBDC services as “the Valley definitely needs more economic development and more small business support.”

“We’re here to help small businesses at no expense to them: We help them grow, get certified, business plans, raise capital, you name it,” Luna said.

“We work closely together and collaborate with clients on whatever their needs might be but (Valley businesses) definitely underutilize these services,” he said. “I’m originally a native from the valley too so I’m just glad to help.”

“It goes a long way,” Yepez said.

The pre-recorded broadcast of the virtual 2020 SBA & SBDC Small Business Awards can be found on YouTube at

For more information on the Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center visit For more information on San Diego, Orange, Imperial PTAC visit .


Roman has worked for multiple local news and non-profit orgs including IV Press and VW Mag, IVROP, St. JP2 Radio and is also with The Southern Cross. An El Centro native, he graduated from Marywood U in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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