Make Mine a Million $ Business(TM) Heads to Hollywood To Turn Women Entrepreneurs into Million $ Stars

The Make Mine a Million $ Business program gets ready for its close-up on November 14th, 2007 when the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood will host a red carpet event where 20 women entrepreneurs will compete for a growth-pak of assistance designed to help turn their businesses into million-dollar enterprises. Women business owners from across the country are encouraged to apply online at www.makemineamillion.org.

California has played host to the Make Mine a Million $ Business competition now a nationwide movement every year since its inception in 2005. This years event brings the program a step closer to achieving its ultimate goal: inspire one million women to declare their intent to build million-dollar businesses by 2010. With a population approaching 35 million and a trillion dollar-plus economy, California is an important economic engine that continues to provide momentum for the Make Mine a Million $ Business movement.

Count Me In, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to women entrepreneurs, and OPEN from American Express®, the small business division of the financial services company, created the Make Mine a Million $ Business program to provide much-needed growth resources, mentoring and encouragement to post-start-up women-owned businesses that have the potential to reach $1 million in annual revenue within two years. Since its inception, the program has awarded 92 women business owners from across the country and ten have already grown to $1 million in annual revenue. Thirty more Make Mine a Million $ Business winners are projected to reach the million-dollar level this year.

The program has already left a meaningful imprint on the state of California: 24 awardees are from the Golden State. In 2006, two California-based women Amelia Moran Ceja, president of Ceja Vineyards, and Melinda Earl, founder of StoneImpressions surpassed the million-dollar milestone. Both women were winners at last years Make Mine a Million $ Business event held in San Francisco.

Our movement is growing exponentially, pushing American women into the next frontier of economic achievement, said Nell Merlino, founder and president, Count Me In. California holds the distinction of being home to the largest concentration of women entrepreneurs in the country with more than 1.2 million women-owned firms. Our program can help more of them make it to a million.*

The small business sector is a thriving part of our countrys economy, and women-owned firms are the fastest growing segment, said Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, director, advocacy marketing at OPEN from American Express. There is a great opportunity here to help create jobs and generate revenue from which we will all benefit.

The 20 women selected to compete in Burbank will give three-minute elevator pitches to a panel of judges and the attending audience who will vote for ten winners. Winners will receive mentoring, money, marketing assistance and technology resources that can help propel their businesses past $1 million in revenues.

The Make Mine a Million $ Business program has garnered support from organizations who are all joining hands in order to make an impact in womens lives and strengthening the US economy. The impressive list of blue-chip national sponsors include OPEN from American Express, AIG®, Cisco®, Dell, FedEx®, QVC®, Jet Blue® and Marriot®.

Dell, the leading computer systems company for small business, has signed on as the newest program partner. This addition strengthens the programs technology component as awardees will now have the support of Dells world class advice, community, products and services. A select group of awardees will be presented with Dell Vostro notebooks, built exclusively for small business.

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 dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. OPEN 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:

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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