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Certifications and Awards

2008 Count Me In/American Express Make Mine a Million $ Business Awardee



Make Mine a Million $ Business™ Names Finalists

From Carolina Newswire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mary Cantando, coordinator for the North Carolina Make Mine a Million $ Business™ ( event, has announced the award finalists for the event scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Blake Hotel, located at 555 S. McDowell St. Twenty finalists were selected from applicants across the Carolinas and will be asked to deliver a business pitch to women entrepreneurs, judges and guests at the event. The finalists are as follows:


  • Jan Allison, Carolina On-Site Fleet Services, Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Denise Bennett, DS Bennett Business Strategies, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Jessica Bottesch, Empower Personal Training, Durham, N.C.
  • Ronda Michaels, Empower Personal Training, Durham, N.C.
  • Dr. Angela Bright Pearson, Bright Audiology, Sanford, N.C.
  • Kristie Byrum, Byrum Innovation Group, Inc., Greenville, S.C.
  • Elizabeth Casazza, Aquavida USA, Ocean Isle, N.C.
  • Gail Corrigan, Corrigan Associates, Inc., Creedmoor, N.C.
  • Wendy Coulter, Hummingbird Creative Group, Cary, N.C.
  • Barbara Denison, Cranky Creative Group, Durham, N.C.
  • Carrie DeWitt-Partello, East Coast Moving LLC, Shallotte, N.C.
  • Carrie Gault, Happy Box Architecture PLLC, Charlotte
  • Virginia Jones, Kinetic Electric Group LLC, Laurinburg, N.C.
  • Lia Lucero, Showpiece Enterprises, Inc., Cornelius, N.C.
  • Jess McLamb, The Roper Group Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
  • Fabi Preslar, SPARK Publications, Matthews, N.C.
  • Zoe Schmidinger, Maple’s Leather Furniture Inc., Sugar Mountain, N.C.
  • Lisa Shock, Roxboro Family Medicine & Immediate Care, Roxboro, N.C.
  • Kimberly Ward, Petra Land Surveying, PLLC, Waxhaw, N.C.
  • Maggie Weldon, Maggie Weldon Designs, Kernersville, N.C.


Ten winners will be chosen by judges and audience members. Awardees will receive coaching from Count Me In™, a platinum business cash rebate credit card from American Express OPENSM, consultations from AIG® and more. The Make Mine a Million $ Business™ program provides women entrepreneurs with the opportunity to expand their businesses to more than a million dollars in annual revenue.


The Micro to Millions™ program is a new program of Count Me In that supports businesses that are not quite large enough yet to apply to the Make Mine a Million $ Business™ program. The intent of this program is to support micro businesses to scale to a level of growth where they can apply to the Make Mine a Million $ Business Program in 18-24 months. The program provides a smaller awards package similar to the Make Mine a Million $ Business program. Finalists for this program include:


  • Connie Cwik, Cwik Business Connections, High Point, N.C.
  • Carol Nix, Carol Fountain Nix, LLC, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Yael Powell, Absolute Best Care, Charlotte
  • Avi Sommerville, Highcliffe Baked Goods, LLC, Asheville, N.C.


“We are excited to open our North Carolina event to women entrepreneurs from South Carolina,” said Nell Merlino, founder and president of Count Me In. “Our movement is growing exponentially, pushing American women into the next frontier of economic achievement. The small business sector is a thriving part of our country’s economy, and women-owned firms are the fastest growing segment. There is a great opportunity here to help create jobs and generate revenue from which we will all benefit.”


“Our finalists exemplify what many businesswomen would like to be and achieve,” said Cantando. “The Make Mine a Million $ Business™ program educates and encourages more women to be like our finalists.”


About Make Mine A Million $ Business™:

Make Mine a Million $ Business™, a program of Count Me In and founding partner, American Express OPENSM, provides women entrepreneurs with the opportunity to expand their businesses by generating more than a million dollars in annual revenue. A unique nationwide program that provides money, mentoring and marketing opportunities to help businesses grow from micro to millions, the goal of Make Mine a Million $ Business™ is to lead one million women entrepreneurs in the effort to reach annual revenues of one million dollars by 2010. North Carolina will host the state’s first Make Mine a Million $ Business™ event on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Blake Hotel in Charlotte. For more information please visit or call (212) 245-1245.

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