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SBA recognizes St. Lawrence County contractor as Upstate Small Business Person of the Year

By Eric Reinhardt (


Bernard J. Paprocki (right), director of the Upstate New York district for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and Dan Rickman (next to Paprocki), deputy district director, present Josh Gilson (left) with the SBA”s Upstate New York Small Business Person of the Year Award. Gilson is owner of Rensselaer Falls–based Tradesman Contracting in St. Lawrence County. (Photo credit: SBA).

RENSSELAER FALLS, N.Y. — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has recognized a St. Lawrence County business owner as the Upstate New York 2020 Small Business Person of the Year.

Josh Gilson, owner of Tradesman Contracting, is this year’s recipient, recognized during the SBA’s recent observance of National Small Business Week.

The SBA presented the award at Tradesman Contracting’s offices in Rensselaer Falls in St. Lawrence County. Those participating included Bernard J. Paprocki, director of the SBA’s Upstate New York district office, Dan Rickman, deputy district director, and Michelle Collins, Gilson’s advisor at the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Collins had not only nominated Gilson for the award, but also worked one-on-one with him providing free business counseling and assistance through her job at the SBA resource partner. It allowed Gilson to expand his business.

“Throughout Upstate New York, there’s no better example of small-business resiliency and strength this year than Josh Gilson and Tradesman Contracting. Not only has Josh’s leadership, community contributions, and continued success in the face of adversity grown, but he earned this award through hard work, and both growth in sales and employees,” Paprocki said.

Tradesman Contracting was founded in 2014 after Gilson, who had worked in the utility construction field for five years, recognized a need for more contractors to meet the growing demands of cable, communications, and utility companies. His business began with one pickup truck and a crew of two people. Since then, Gilson has grown Tradesman Contracting to employ more than 20 people who provide service throughout Northern and Central New York.

In 2016, Gilson applied for an SBA 7(a) working capital loan and went on to complete an asset buyout of another small utility construction-company two years later. He has also opened a second location in the Jefferson County community of Philadelphia with a crew of four employees serving that area.

The SBA presented local awards to businesses in the Upstate New York district, which covers 34 counties in the Empire State. The territory includes the Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Capital Region. The agency acknowledged small-business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the district’s service area for their “innovation and resilience” this year.

For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration has celebrated National Small Business Week (NSBW), recognizing the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. The 2020 NSBW celebrations, held between Sept. 20 and Sept. 26, included a virtual three-day conference and awards ceremony that honored national award winners from across New York and the nation for their accomplishments.

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