Rita Lacey of Kunkletown added another notch to her belt of bringing awareness to the world about the power of small businesses and recycling.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Philadelphia District Office announced the District's 2012 Small Business Award winners and Rita Lacey was named Home-based Business Champion of the Year. The Philadelphia District and Region 3 includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC, and West Virginia.

Ms. Lacey teaches the unemployed and underemployed how to build websites, facilitating their startups of home-based online businesses. She wrote an e-book, "Building a Business Website, on a Shoestring Budget." Through her own home-based business, Close the Loop, Ms. Lacey markets products made by small manufacturers from recycled materials online at www.closetheloop.com.

SBA's Philadelphia District Director, David Dickson, will officially present the winners with their awards at the annual "SBA Day at the Ballpark" event June 7.

"Every year the award winners honored at this event have truly distinguished themselves and represent the very best that the eastern Pennsylvania small business community has to offer," said Dickson.

Lacey is thrilled to be named the recipient of the award and she and her family plan to attend SBA Day to accept it.

Pat Kelly of Waste Not Technologies in Saylorsburg, nominated Ms. Lacey for the award.

When she received the phone call from Dickson, she felt great.

"Part of my business is to further that of other small businesses. It is my way of giving back," says Lacey.

She had two trusted mentors when she started her business, Close the Loop.

"They were very helpful to me. I can never pay them back, but I can pay forward. The best way for me to pay it forward is to help other small businesses succeed. When the economy went bad in 2008, not only my business was hurting, but others were too.

"I thought it was important to share what I learned through the successes and pitfalls of other businesses. Just like my mentors steered me, I wanted to show how easy it was to build your own home-based business and avoid those pitfalls."

What do Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Harley Davidson have in common?

"They all started out as home-based businesses," she answers.

She wrote her e-book to help others utilize what is available to them.

Lacey began offering classes based on her book.

"I poured my guts out in this book of what I've learned throughout the years" and she wants to share it with others.

She does a lot of social media networking, using Facebook, Linked In and Twitter.

Last year, Close the Loop won a national award from Take Pride in America, and was recognized at a ceremony and reception at the White House on July 18.

Close the Loop, LLC, was established in 2000. It was begun to help preserve the environment by viewing waste as a valuable resource, and to assist in the development and marketing of consumer recycled products which create jobs and help clean up the environment. It prides itself as being an environmentally and socially-focused company offering innovative recycled products such as: 100 percent recycled plastic split rail fencing; glass mulch; rubber landscape timbers and more.

Close the Loop encourages people to view our waste as a valuable resource. By making products from recycled raw materials, the waste stream is reduced, saving energy, water, landfill space, and potential air pollution during product manufacturing, and is good for our environment, and the economy by creating much needed manufacturing jobs.

As part of Lacey's mission to help her community realize the importance of recycling, Close the Loop has, for the past three years, organized "Give and Take Days" in coordination with Chestnuthill Township Park, Ross Township, West End Park & Open Space Commission and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). This year's Give and Take Day will be Saturday, April 28 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Chestnuthill Township Park, Rt. 715, Brodheadsville.

To learn more about Close the Loop and to help be part of the solution, visit www.closetheloop.com. Follow on Twitter, http://twitter.com and Facebook, www.facebook.com/closetheloop or call 570-629-8414.

"If people study a problem and start a business to solve a problem and are socially responsible, I feel that is the way of the future," she says.