Eight Make Mine a $Million Business(R) Program Awardees Surpass the Million-Dollar Milestone in 2006

Eight women entrepreneurs in the Make Mine a $Million Business program turned their businesses into million-dollar enterprises in 2006. By doing so, they are helping to narrow a gap in the US economy where women own 10.4 million businesses, but only 3% generate more than $1 million in revenues.

Through the Make Mine a $Million Business program, each of these diverse and creative business owners realized a deeper confidence and belief in themselves and the potential of their businesses. The program identifies high-potential women entrepreneurs to receive mentoring, marketing, money, and technology resources to help them reach their dreams of owning a million-dollar enterprise. In addition, participants benefit from the encouragement of a network of women business owners like themselves, and gain invaluable validation and support, thanks to the participation of some of the biggest blue-chip brands in America.

Make Mine a $Million Business is a program of Count Me In for Womens Economic Independence, a not-for-profit organization, and Founding Partner OPEN from American Express®. It is the only national initiative committed to the growth needs of post-start-up, women-owned businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenues.

"The sky's the limit for women entrepreneurs once they believe in themselves," said Nell Merlino, founder and president, Count Me In. "Confidence and a can-do attitude are keys to success, and these eight owners of innovative, million-dollar enterprises are an inspiration to any woman who has ever dreamed of starting her own business."

These eight women are part of a movement that will transform our economy and our country in so many ways, and we at OPEN are thrilled to be along for the ride, said Susan Sobbott, president, OPEN from American Express. They serve as proof that a million-dollar-mindset can translate into a million-dollar business.

These eight entrepreneurs own both product and service companies and represent all regions of the United States. Each has a unique story of how she made it to a million. For example, Amelia Ceja followed her dream and owns an award-winning winery in Napa after growing up in a family of migrant workers. Dawn Stokes started an innovative, high-performance driving business in an industry dominated by men.

The eight women entrepreneurs who now own million-dollar enterprises are:

  • Maureen Borzacchiello, of Lynbrook, NY, president of Creative Display Solutions (www.creativedisplaysolutions.com), a company specializing in trade show exhibits, graphic solutions, storage and asset management. Ms. Borzacchiello challenged herself to be one of the first owners of a million-dollar enterprise in the Make Mine a $Million Business program. She succeeded by almost tripling the size of her business in 2006.
  • Dr. Amelia Case, of Chicago IL, founded Universal Health Institute (www.uhichicago.com) because of the success her sister experienced with chiropractic care. Dr. Cases sister had lifelong chronic migraines and thus dedicated her life to learning about and bringing non-drug and non-surgical solutions to patients in pain and in need of good health care; and to create fantastic teams of board certified clinicians who offer those services. Her business offers a unique combination of drug free, non-surgical traditional and alternative therapies designed to relieve pain and revitalize patients lives.
  • Amelia Moran Ceja of Napa, CA, president of Ceja Vineyards (www.cejavineyards.com), an ultra premium wine producer in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Ms. Ceja grew up in a family of migrant workers, who were involved in growing grapes for three generations. She blazed a trail by becoming one of the first Mexican immigrants to own a vineyard in the US.
  • Melinda Earl, of San Diego, CA, majority partner of StoneImpressions (www.stoneimpressions.com), a manufacturing company that makes decorative natural stone tile products using a unique, patented process. By translating her artistic training and talents into a business, Ms. Earl has created more than 300 unique designs and also produces custom work for clients who supply their own artwork.
  • Gina Stern, of Newark, NJ, president of d_parture spa (www.departurespa.com), addressed a need in the marketplace for full-service spas to serve weary travelers with her three full-service spas located in airport terminalstwo in Newark and one in Orlando, FL.
  • Dawn Stokes, of Fort Worth, TX, chief executive officer of The Texas Driving Experience (www.texasdrivingexperience.com), which teaches high-performance driving and accident avoidance at major race tracks, operates a fast-paced business in a male-dominated industry.
  • Sandi Webster, of Newark, NJ, principal of Consultants 2 Go, LLC (www.consultants2go.com), a consulting firm that provides marketing and analytic solutions to Fortune 500 companies, launched her business after being downsized.
  • Kris Wittenberg of Eagle (Vail), CO, founder and president of SayNoMore! Promotions (www.SayNoMorePromotions.com), a full-service promotions agency delivering clients brand messages through innovative promotional products. Ms. Wittenberg purchased and built out office space for her business in 2006, increased her companys 2006 revenues by more than 60% and doubled her staff in part due to the assistance received in the Make Mine a $Million Business program. SayNoMore! Promotions is currently featured in a national advertising campaign for the American Express Simply Cash Card.

These eight women will be on hand at the first Make Mine a $Million Business event of 2007 at the Womens Congress in Boston on March 29 to share their success stories and inspire others. Women entrepreneurs are encouraged to register on the Make Mine a $Million Business web site to be part of the community and get a full schedule of events for 2007.

In 2005, Count Me In and OPEN introduced Make Mine a $Million Business as a pilot program to help women entrepreneurs grow and build sustainable enterprises, create jobs and develop innovative products and services. Since the program began, 63 women entrepreneurs from across the country have received one-on-one mentoring, marketing assistance and money in the form of Count Me In loans and business lines of credit from OPEN to fund their growth, a package of financial, insurance and advisory services from AIG and other products and services from Cisco Systems, FedEx, Intuit and QVC.

About Count Me In

Count Me In for Womens Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of on-line business loans and resources for women to grow their micro businesses into $million enterprises. Find us at www.countmein.org or call 212-245-1245.

About OPEN from American Express®

OPEN® is the American Express team dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. The OPEN Team supports business owners with unparalleled service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPEN, visit OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Company (www.americanexpress.com) is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

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