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January 25, 2000

Governor Announces Small Business Award Winners

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the winners of the Governor's Small Business Awards, established to celebrate the vital role that small businesses play in maintaining and strengthening the Illinois economy.

"This awards program celebrates the accomplishments of the Illinois small business community," Ryan said. "These award winners have been selected based on the drive and determination they have shown, both in creating and expanding successful businesses, and also in contributing to the betterment of their communities.

"In addition to creating employment opportunities for their fellow citizens, they have gone the extra mile, demonstrating a personal commitment to improving the lives of their neighbors through mentoring, providing training and assistance to other entrepreneurs, and encouraging growth of new small businesses throughout Illinois."

Lt. Governor Corinne Wood presented the awards, commending the winners for making a difference in their communities. "These small business owners are true Illinois success stories. They understand the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs, and their dedication to the future of our state's business climate and quality of life is exemplary."

The new awards program, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, is designed to complement the U.S. Small Business Administration's award program. Through an agreement with the SBA, all Illinois award winners will be forwarded to the SBA for consideration for its awards.

Categories include: Small Business Person of the Year, Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year, Women in Business Advocate of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and an Entrepreneurial Success Award.

"The Governor's Small Business 2000 Summit is being held to engage the small business community in a meaningful dialogue on critical issues and concerns that affect small businesses in Illinois," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "The award winners we are honoring already have demonstrated a strong commitment to changing our business climate and communities for the better."

Governor Ryan has increased funding for several state programs designed to help small businesses develop and prosper. Available resources for DCCA's small business assistance programs have been doubled to provide technical, management, and financial assistance to small businesses. In addition, Governor Ryan has established Business Information Centers as a function and extension of the Small Business Development Center Network to help small business owners get the information they need to succeed. Through staff and technology enhancements, small business owners will have access to computers, relevant software and the necessary training to start or develop new business strategies.

For more information about the Governor's Small Business Award Program and the

Governor's Small Business 2000 Summit contact the DCCA Small Business Division at 217/524-5856. For information about the programs and services available to assist Illinois

businesses through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, contact the First Stop Business Information Center at 800/252-2923 (TDD: 800/785-6055) or visit the DCCA Web site at www.commerce.state.il.us.

A list of the Governor's Small Business Award winners is attached.

Governor's Small Business Person of the Year Awards

Sharry Henk
Vice President/Co-Owner
Pinoy Construction, Inc.
Bagel & Bean
Harrisburg, Illinois

Sharry Henk is Vice President and co-owner of two very successful businesses -- Pinoy Construction and Bagel & Bean. Both businesses have shown consistent sales and employment growth since their beginnings, now providing employment to more than 50 people in the Harrisburg area. Sharry Henk has demonstrated both drive and success in her business ventures.

Leticia Herrera
President and CEO
ECI, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Leticia Herrera has received accolades for transforming Chicago-based ECI, Inc. from a fledgling, under funded janitorial company, into a sought-after provider of high quality construction restoration and maintenance services that provides specialty cleaning, fine stone and marble restoration services for private businesses, public agencies and institutional owners. For her business achievement, as well as for her small business advocacy and mentoring activities, she is recognized as an outstanding role model for current and future entrepreneurs.

Jim Montelongo
Advanced CAD/CAM Service Corporation (ACCS)
Peoria, Illinois

In 1991, Jim Montelongo and a partner founded Advanced CAD/CAM Service Corporation (ACCS), locating the business in the Business Technology Incubator at Bradley University in Peoria. Jim Montelongo believes in giving back to his community. ACCS today employs more than 100 professionals, including a number of students from Bradley that assisted with special projects and became full-time employees after graduation.

Eugene Morris
Chairman and CEO
E. Morris Communications
Chicago, Illinois

Under the leadership of Eugene Morris, E. Morris Communications has emerged as an industry powerhouse in the communications field. The firm crafts multidimensional campaigns that enable its clients to tap into and increase their share in the $400 million African-American consumer market. In devising effective, creative and often award-winning campaigns, the firm draws from its understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of the African-American consumer market. Morris has been recognized as a dynamic mentor within the community.

Deborah M. Sawyer
President and CEO
Environmental Design International, Inc.
Hillside, Illinois

Deborah Sawyer is president and CEO of Environmental Design International, Inc., a full-service, minority and female-owned, professional engineering firm offering a variety of engineering, industrial hygiene, environmental, and information technology services. Ms. Sawyer has received recognition for both the successful growth of her business and her personal and professional contributions to the City of Chicago, her community and to small business.

Anne Bigane Wilson, P.E.
Bigane Paving Company
Chicago, Illinois

Anne Bigane Wilson is president of Bigane Paving Company, a fourth-generation family firm that now specializes in asphalt paving and site development. She also owns Ogden Avenue Materials, an asphalt batch plant. She is a founding member and past president of the Federation of Women Contractors (FWC). Her management and mentoring skills have set her apart and have helped her succeed in a male-dominated industry.

Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year Awards

Donald J. Johnson
CDC Development Corporation
East St. Louis, Illinois

Donald J. Johnson, President of the CDC Development Corporation, concentrates his business efforts on the development of affordable low-income housing throughout the metropolitan East St. Louis community. Mr. Johnson has achieved impressive results by building more than 70 single family homes and rehabbing more than 40 existing structures in cities of declining population and areas that had not seen new construction in decades.

Lonnie Steven Radcliffe
Senior Vice President
Highland Community Bank
Chicago, Illinois

Lonnie Steven Radcliffe is an executive level sales and marketing professional with 20 years of experience managing major business development efforts in the financial services industry. Mr. Radcliffe also has a strong commitment to improving the strength of the Illinois minority business community, providing leadership, reaching out to minority businesses, and addressing critical issues by developing positive recommendations for action.

Joseph A. Williams
Target Group, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Joseph A. Williams founded Target Group, a Chicago-based management consulting firm, in 1983. The company specializes in developing strategies to promote workforce diversity and create economic opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises. Mr. Williams has received numerous honors in recognition of his work to create economic opportunities and improve effective working relationships for minority and women-owned businesses.

Women in Business Advocate of the Year Awards

Ramona Marie Fletcher
Fletcher's Day Care Center
Quincy, Illinois

Ms. Fletcher has developed an advanced on-site training center, providing employees, many of whom are mothers, with access to training that can help them advance in the day care industry. Ms. Fletcher is also committed to Illinois' welfare-to-work initiatives. She has employed three mothers who had been welfare recipients, and has hired three teenage mothers in an effort to give them a chance to improve their lives.

Mary Jo Hetrick
Good Scents, Ltd.
Princeton, Illinois

Although the business had modest beginnings, starting in 1989 in the basement of her home, within five years Good Scents became the state's largest perfumery and Ms. Hetrick had established herself as a role model for women wanting to start their own business. Hetrick, a long-time supporter of women in business, has developed a networking manual to assist rural women. Her outstanding leadership in both business and professional organizations has won national recognition.

Hedy M. Ratner
S. Carol Dougal
Co-Founder and Co-President
Women's Business Development Center
Chicago, Illinois

For more than 15 years, Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal have been involved in shaping the public policy agenda for women's business and economic development. Together, they serve as co-presidents of the Women's Business Development Center, the most comprehensive and oldest women's business assistance program in the United States. In its 15 year history, the Women's Business Development Center has counseled more than 20,000 women business owners, provided entrepreneurial training to over 25,000 Chicago area women, and helped to create, expand and save thousands of businesses owned by women.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Camilla Amber White
Sole Proprietor
Flossmoor, Illinois

Camilla White is a 12-year-old entrepreneur who is the sole proprietor of two successful businesses -- Camilla's Crafts, which produces greeting cards and Beanie Baby accessories, and Camilla's Jam-N-Yams, creating the "best homemade pies ever baked!" She started her business at age 8, and has recorded rising sales ever since. A professional model who speaks four languages, Camilla White was selected "Miss Mini Star of Illinois" -- an honor which also earned her a role in a CBS movie.

Entrepreneurial Success Awards

Gwen Christine Duncan-James
President and CEO
Gareda Diversified Business Services, Inc.
Calumet City, Illinois

Gwen Duncan-James opened Gareda Diversified Business Services in 1991. This for-profit business provides a variety of services -- primarily supplementary staffing and homemaker assistance for elderly and disabled clients in the Chicagoland area. Gareda's success has been remarkable, recording in excess of $7 million annually in sales and employing 867 people, many of whom had formerly been unemployed or lacked employment skills.

Catherine Karabetsos
Karin Hall
Quality Customer Service and Sales (QCSS)
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

In 1991, Karin Hall and Catherine Karabetsos had a goal: start a business that would enable them to be both full-time businesswomen and full-time moms. Ms. Hall and Ms. Karabetsos started QCSS, a home-based telemarketing firm that provides outsourcing services for sales and marketing of products and services. The two worked in Hall's den, juggling caring for their six children with faxes, phones and PCs. Today, the duo continues to work from the Hall home, but have added a traditional call center and employ several agents who also work from their homes while caring for their children and are on target for $1 million in revenue for 1999.

Mr. Ravi Ravichandran
COMNET International Company
Lisle, Illinois

Former AT&T engineer Ravi Ravichandran founded COMNET International Company in 1994,

The company and Mr. Ravichandran have both achieved tremendous success. Recently, Inc. Magazine recognized COMNET as number 110 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies. In 1999, Mr. Ravichandran was recognized as the winner of the SBA's Small Business Person of the Year award.


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