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Business

New Awards to Honor Women Entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara

Nominations for several categories will be accepted through April 13

The Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners has announced the first Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner on May 13.

Maria Contreras-Sweet
Maria Contreras-Sweet

The awards were created to honor both a national level entrepreneur and local women who exemplify what it means to be a successful entrepreneur.

“The awards are an important milestone for NAWBO-SB,” said Maeda Palius, president of NAWBO-SB. “The incredible growth of our chapter is proof of the importance of women entrepreneurs in building the economy. We wanted to create a way of acknowledging the many women entrepreneurs, not just our members, who are contributing to the economic recovery in Santa Barbara.”

She noted that any women entrepreneurs in the area can apply for the awards by filling out the nomination form at www.nawbo-sbfoundation.org. The deadline for nominations is April 13.

Maria Contreras-Sweet will be the recipient of the main Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award and the keynote speaker. Contreras-Sweet, whose own success story is inspiring, is the founder and chairwoman of Promerica Bank in Los Angeles and former secretary of business, transportation and housing for the State of California.

Six other awards will be given to Santa Barbara women entrepreneurs in specific categories to recognize their contributions to the community and the economy. The winners will be selected by a panel of independent judges.

The categories are manufacturing/wholesale/retail; professional services; health/beauty/fitness; publishing/communications/media; science and technology; and tourism and hospitality.

The awards dinner is being held in conjunction with the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at SBCC. The Scheinfeld Center’s New Venture Challenge is a two-tiered business pitch competition for SBCC students and area high school students to promote youth entrepreneurship.

The student awards will include scholarship and/or cash awards for the first, second and third place at both the college and high school levels. The winners of both tiers of the New Venture Challenge Awards will be the NAWBO-SB Foundation’s guests and receive their prizes at the awards dinner.

“We believe a large part of our mission is to support entrepreneurship at all levels, and the students are our future,” Palius said. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with the Scheinfeld Center and encourage the next generation to grow their own businesses.”

All proceeds from the event will go toward underwriting the 2012 awards dinner and funding at least two prizes to the Scheinfeld Center for the 2012 event to be given to one female and one male student entrepreneur.

The awards dinner will be held at the Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, May 13. Tickets are $100 for NAWBO-SB members and $125 for non-members. Reservations are required.

For nomination forms, sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, click here or or call Executive Director Cathy Feldman at 805.682.8775.

— Karen Dwyer is the public relations chairwoman for the National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara Chapter.

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