McGinnity on 'Make a Million' Contest in Milwaukee Business Journal

12 February 2007 News

State to Host 'Make a Million' Contest.
By Rachel McCormick-Jennings

A national program to encourage women business owners to make $1 million in revenue is hosting its first state competition in Wisconsin.

The "Make Mine A $Million Business" program's goal is to get 1 million women-owned businesses in the United States to each generate $1 million in revenue by 2010. Winners earn prizes -- such as legal and financial advice, financial management software and access to capital -- to help them expand.

"The program would be beneficial to Wisconsin's economy by helping to create thousands of new jobs, and by bringing more revenue into the state," said Julann Jatczak, vice president of Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corp., a Milwaukee economic development group.

Wisconsin has 158,195 women-owned businesses; 4,100 of them generate $1 million or more in revenue, according to Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence, the organization that founded Make Mine A $Million Business. Count Me In is an economic development organization in New York City that provides micro loans, business education and consulting.

"Often women-owned firms don't reach the $1 million mark because they lack the encouragement and financial resources to do so," said Maureen McGinnity, an attorney with Foley & Lardner, a Milwaukee law firm that is sponsoring the Wisconsin competition.

Applications already are being accepted by program organizers. The deadline to apply is April 24. Applicants submit a plan describing how they plan to grow their business to reach $1 million in revenue.

Wisconsin would need to increase the number of women-owned firms generating $1 million in revenue to 17,228 to help the program meet its 1 million mark. If Wisconsin reached its goal, more than 90,000 jobs would be created, said Nell Merlino, co-founder and chief executive officer of Count Me In.

Marie Moody was one of 20 who won the national competition in New York City in October 2006. Moody recently moved her high-end dog food manufacturing company, Stella & Chewy's L.L.C., to Muskego from New York City after she won the competition. A Wisconsin native, Moody moved her company because it was cheaper to produce her product in Wisconsin than in New York, she said.

Eleven production employees will be hired to work at Stella & Chewy's, which generated $600,000 in revenue in 2006. Employees will be hired in upcoming months.

Moody said the competition helps connect women-owned firms with the resources necessary to grow their companies.

"I'm looking forward to being introduced to the business resources here in the state so I can grow my business to a million-dollar company," Moody said.

Program organizers anticipate 250 to 400 applicants for the competition. Fifteen finalists will present their business plans on May 21 at the Make Mine A $Million Business Conference at the Concourse Hotel in Madison; eight women will win prize packages.

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Maureen A. McGinnity

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