Connections to Contracts and Capacity Building Are Focus of

27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference Sept. 26 in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL, August 2013 – Women business owners will find valuable connections, contract opportunities and access to information and resources to grow their businesses at the 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference (EWC), Women’s Business & Buyers Mart, presented by the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) on Thursday, September 26, 2013, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at McCormick Place, Lakeside Center, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, in Chicago.

Supported by the 2013 Conference Co-Chairs Carolynn Brooks, vice president, chief diversity officer, OfficeMax and president, OfficeMax Charitable Foundation; and Marsha Cruzan, Chicago market president, U.S. Bank, the conference features:

  • Face time with more than 200 corporate and government representatives at the Women’s Business & Buyers Mart, who are committed to purchasing products and services from women-owned businesses.
  • Contract Connections, the WBDC Matchmaker, pre-arranged, one-on-one meetings between certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and corporate and government purchasing decision-makers.
  • Women’s Forum Breakfast, moderated by best-selling author Terry Savage, will feature the State of Women’s Business Development from the WBDC. Beginning with a discussion of the origins of the Women’s Business Development Center and how far it has come, the conversation will also cover the WBDC’s vision for the future and its commitment to continue fighting the challenges that still exist for women- and minority-owned businesses. Forum panelists are Hedy M. Ratner and S. Carol Dougal, co-founders and co-presidents Emeritus of the WBDC; Emilia DiMenco, WBDC president & CEO; and Debra Jennings-Johnson, chair of the WBDC board and director, Supplier Diversity, BP America, Inc.
  • Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon, honoring successful female entrepreneurs and supporters of women’s economic development. Award recipients are: 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year – Carolyn Gable, CEO, New Age Transportation, Inc.; 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year WBE Success, Lili Hall, President & CEO, KNOCK, inc.; 27th Annual Advocacy Award – WVON; 27th Annual Corporate Support Award – OfficeMax. Laurel Bellows, the principal of The Bellows Law Group, P.C., located in Chicago, and the immediate past president of the American Bar Association, will deliver the keynote address.
  • Workshops for start-up and established business owners, “Launch Your Own Business: From Dream to Reality,” “10,000 Small Businesses Growth Session,” “Small Business – Big Opportunities: Finding Solutions for Small Business Challenges.”
  • Let’s get this party started!  An entertaining, wrap-up reception where women business owners and corporate and government procurement representatives can connect in a casual, business setting.

Tickets are $300 for everyone, in advance and at the door. This fee includes access to all conference events. Individual tickets for the Women’s Forum Breakfast, Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon and Women’s Business & Buyers Mart are $125 each for everyone. For more information or to register, visit

CONTACT: Chris Ruys, Chris Ruys Communications, 312-337-7746

               Mia Delano, 303-691-0821,

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