Make Mine a Million $ Business(TM) Program Brings Million-Dollar Competition to Austin

Texas plays host to the second-ever state-based Make Mine a Million $ Business competition on October 4 in Austin where women business owners will compete for resources designed to help them build million-dollar enterprises. The application process begins today: Texas-based women who own businesses with the potential to scale to $1 million in annual revenue are encouraged to apply at http://www.makemineamillion.org/.

Twelve finalists will be selected from the applicant pool to give three-minute elevator pitches at the Austin Convention Center during the Texas Conference for Women, hosted by Governor Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry. The conference is the states premiere networking and educational experience designed to engage, enlighten and empower women from across the state. Event registration information is available online at: https://www.event-registration.biz/tx07/introduction.asp.

A panel of judges and the attending audience will select six winners from the twelve finalists who will receive mentoring, money, marketing assistance and technology resources to help their businesses flourish. Ellen Susman, producer and host of the television show, Balancing Your Life with Ellen Susman will moderate the competition and share her expertise on the challenges women face in succeeding as entrepreneurs while balancing work and family needs.

The Make Mine a Million $ Business program was launched by Count Me In for Womens Economic Independence and founding partner OPEN from American Express® in 2005 to help post-start-up, women-owned businesses exceed $1 million in revenues, a benchmark that only 3% of women currently reach. In Texas, there are 676,296 women-owned businesses and 17,844 (2.6%) have reached the million-dollar milestone. The movement is now inspiring one million women to pledge their intent to build million-dollar businesses by 2010, contributing an enormous amount of revenue to the U.S. economy. In Texas alone, there would be an additional $73 billion in economic activity if this goal is reached.*

In April, the first state-based competition was held in Madison, WI. Twenty-five to thirty state-based events will roll out during the course of 2008. New York, NY and Burbank, CA will play host to national competitions later this year, on October 23 and November 14, respectively.

Were rolling out a grassroots approach in individual states to fundamentally change the landscape for women-owned businesses, and for all Americans who will benefit from the newly generated revenue and job creation, said Nell Merlino, founder and president, Count Me In for Womens Economic Independence. We chose to roll out our second state-based program in Austin to share our business growth vision with the sizeable number of expected Texas Conference for Women attendees, and to capitalize on the eight years of new perspectives, ideas and opportunities this event has brought to the women of the Lone Star State.

Whether by securing capital, finding new markets or managing cash flow, each individual entrepreneur is looking for answers to enable business growth, said Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, director, advocacy marketing at OPEN from American Express. By creating a community of like-minded, committed women entrepreneurs and providing awardees with mentoring, money, marketing and technology resources, the Make Mine a Million $ Business program instills confidence in women that they can make it and provides them some of the tools necessary to do so.

The Make Mine a Million $ Business program announces the beginning of the Austin application process at a time when many in the local government and business community in Texas are discussing the recently passed Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act. The bill provides small businesses with greater opportunity to compete for federal contracts and contains a provision that raises the Small Business Administrations goal for contracting with women-owned businesses.

About Count-Me-In

Count Me In for Women's 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 from American Express is the 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 OPENSM, 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.

* Data source: US Census Bureau. Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners: Women-Owned Firms, 2002. Published January 2006. (SB02-00CS-WMN). Prepared by Julie Weeks, President and CEO of Womenable, www.womenable.com.

Contacts:

Media:
M Booth & Associates for
Count-Me-In and OPEN from American Express
Matt Hantz, 212-481-7000
matth@mbooth.com
or
OPEN from American Express
Rosa M. Alfonso, 212-640-1712
rosa.m.alfonso@aexp.com

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