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New Venture Challenge, Awards Dinner Put Emphasis on Entrepreneurship

NAWBO-SB and SBCC will honor the work and vision of women business owners and students

The Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners will hand out the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards for women entrepreneurs and SBCC and high school students May 13 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

NAWBO will team up with the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at SBCC for the dinner, intended to promote local women business owners and future economic growth through the support of youth entrepreneurs.

“The focus of the awards is not just to give a pat on the back to women who have done well, but it’s to raise money to help fund scholarships at the Scheinfeld Center,” center Director Melissa Moreno said during a news conference Wednesday.

Six additional awards will be presented to local women in manufacturing/retail, professional services, health/beauty, media, science and technology, and tourism.

The awards will be given by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the first Latina founder of Promerica Bank in Los Angeles and former California secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing.

The Bank of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust are the major sponsors of the event.

The Scheinfeld Center will also host the New Venture Challenge, a two-tiered business plan competition, at 2 p.m. May 13 for SBCC students and area high school students to promote youth entrepreneurship.

“The youth in the community need to be recognized for entrepreneurial activity. There’s a lot of that going on in high school virtual enterprise programs,” Moreno said. “We wanted to give those students that opportunity, and I think that you would be surprised of the ideas that come from these high school students. They are an amazing group of people.”

The competition serves as a capstone experience to the community college students in entrepreneurship and career technical studies and to high school students participating in the virtual enterprise programs.

Moreno said the Scheinfeld Center will offer a clear pathway for high school entrepreneurs to continue their small business.

“Many high school students are eager to continue entrepreneurship after high school,” she said. “Now they know where to go and have a clear pathway to the center.”

The winning students will receive $15,000 in various levels of scholarship and cash awards. Proceeds from the awards dinner will be used to underwrite two additional award for the 2012 New Venture Challenge.

“Not everyone will want to start a business, but students will be so employable because of the skills they learned,” NAWBO-SB President Maeda Palius said Wednesday.

Six judges have been appointed to choose the winners: Jeff Carmody, chief operating officer of Agility Capital; Lynda Weinman, co-founder and executive chair of Lynda.com; Christopher Morales, trust associate at Montecito Bank & Trust; Alan Tratner, president of Inventors Workshop International; Gary Kravetz, small-business consultant with SCORE and TechCoast Angels; and John Richardson with Ameravant.

Ten finalists will be invited to pitch at the Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge on the SBCC campus for a half-day in a lecture hall, followed by an awards banquet for the winners. The submission deadline is April 29 for the New Venture Challenge.

“With the economy the way it has been, we’re not attracting companies so we’ve got to grow our own jobs,” NAWBO-SB public relations chairwoman Karen Dwyer said. “That’s what entrepreneurship is going to do is grow the economy.”

Award dinner tickets are $100 for NAWBO members and $125 for nonmembers. Reservations are required by May 4.

For nomination forms, sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, call Cathy Feldman, executive director of NAWBO-SB, at 805.682.8775. Sponsorship opportunities end Monday.

The purpose of the Santa Barbara chapter of NAWBO is to help members interact with other women business owners to create economic strength, to grow their business, create strategic alliances and transform public policy.

The Scheinfeld Center trains entrepreneurs through theoretical curriculum, practical application, experiential methods, mentoring, counseling, internships, networking and post-start-up support.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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