Michael Hamilton and his wife, Cathy, of Sweetwater, founded MCH Corp., in 1998 as an SBA certified small disadvantaged business. It is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides innovative and cost effective management and technology solutions to both government and commercial customers across the United States.
Tennessee SBA Director Walter Perry described Sweetwater as a great place to create jobs and grow the economy.
“Michael’s company, MCH Corp., typifies what we at the U.S. Small Business Administration want to have happen in all counties in the state of Tennessee,” Perry said. “How we do that at the SBA is provide counseling for those who want to start a business or expand a business.”
He said Cleveland State Small Business Development Center Director Brenda Sheehy provided the infrastructure to achieve that mission.
“This is a wonderful honor for Michael and Cathy and Monroe County,” Sheehy said. “I think it is a wonderful story of hometown heroes because they are bringing jobs.”
She said the company is looking at ways to employ talent in Monroe County who might not have transportation to get jobs in Knoxville or Oak Ridge.
Perry said Sheehy helps folks like Michael Hamilton and his company “get their ducks in a row to do the next part of our mission, to provide necessary funding support or capital access. We provide guarantees to loans made through commercial banks.”
The SBA has guaranteed four loans in Monroe County for more than $3 million since Oct. 1, 2010. There were no loans in the previous fiscal year.
“The arrows are in the right direction. The economy certainly is moving forward in Monroe County,” he said.
Michael Hamilton said he and Cathy sold their Web-based hospital and clinical software scheduling company in San Jose, Calif., and moved to Sweetwater about 15 years ago.
“My wife brought me here to visit and we just decided to move here,” Hamilton said. “We were living in the middle of the Silicon Valley.
They looked at states with no income taxes and chose Tennessee over Nevada and Florida because of the outdoor opportunities.
“It was primarily the recreation, the people I met, clean living and lifestyle. In San Jose everything is paved and not hearing any crickets at night and those kinds of things always bothered me,” he said. “Out here there is lots of nature and living things and clean air. This is really appealing.”
He was drawn back into business almost immediately after moving to Tennessee after meeting people at an Oak Ridge rifle range.
“The next thing you know I was doing some work on a Homeland Security product,” he said. “I ended up moving my software consulting business here from California and was drawn right back into it.”
Sheehy said MCH is an example of a small business that has grown into a big, viable company. MCH began with the husband and wife as the only two employees. It has grown to 12 employees with locations in Sweetwater and Albuquerque, N.M.
“Many times people think it is not possible, but Michael and Cathy are wonderful role models as small business owners who want to pursue government contracts.”
Cathy said it has been hard work and a great deal of studying.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. We took a lot of training courses. Government contracting is very different from our commercial clients because you are committed to federal acquisition regulations. There are a lot of good people who will walk you through the process.”
She stressed the importance of getting to know local bankers.
“We went in and threw ourselves on the mercy of People’s Bank of East Tennessee in Sweetwater,” she said. “Get to know your banker. Doug Richardson took a chance on us.”
The company expects to occupy its new 5,200 square-foot office complex in the fall. They are currently located in an office above a hair salon and the old Sequoyah Place movie theater.