Small business named recipient of more than $12,000 in cash and prizes

(GWINNETT- METRO ATLANTA) April 25, 2014 – Partnership Gwinnett andGwinnett Chamber Economic Development joined with The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to announce the winner of the fourth annual Amazing Entrepreneur competition – Black Mermaid’s Handcrafted Soaps & Products. The small business centers on a line of non-preservative, additive-free soap and bath products.

“When I launched the company a year ago, it was to make handmade soaps for family and friends. It’s accelerated since then and I’m now selling products nationally and internationally. I’m honored to win this year’s Amazing Entrepreneur Contest and look forward to using these prizes to grow even more,” stated Denise Zannu, Founder and CEO of Black Mermaid.

Designed to foster innovation and small business growth in Gwinnett County, the Amazing Entrepreneur competition encourages contestants to enter a business plan summary for judging, with finalists earning the opportunity to present before a panel of judges. The Established Business finalists for 2014 included:

  • Adrian Collaborative – a professional planning firm specializing in project management, environmental impact analysis, GIS mapping and analysis, transportation planning.
  • Infiniti Data Solutions, LLC – an IT solutions company specializing in analysis, upgrades, and complete overhauls of security systems.
  • Inventors Club – a program designed to improve students’ understanding in math, science, and technology through engaging, interactive activities.

“At the SBDC, we work with entrepreneurs to help them develop the skills necessary to be successful at starting, managing and furthering their business,” stated Lydia Jones, District Director for Metro Atlanta and North Georgia for the Georgia Small Business Development Center. “The Amazing Entrepreneur contest is a way to encourage startups and small businesses during the first stages of their development and connect them with the resources essential to their growth and success.”

Black Mermaid’s Handcrafted Soaps & Products will receive a prize package that includes $5,000 cash, a consultation with an attorney from Arnall Golden Gregory ($3,000 value), a trip to Sage Summit customer conference ($2,500 value), scholarship to attend the Small Business Development Center’s Grow Smart program ($985 value), a one-year Gwinnett Chamber membership ($500 value minimum), and more. Of the $5,000 cash prize, $1,750 was raised through donations from 15 public and private entities during the Contest’s crowd funding initiative.

Businesses not yet in operation were also given the opportunity to win prizes through the Contest’s Pre-Venture category. 4LuvBeauty’s proposed business as a nail, hair, and skin care product line catering to eco-conscious women was announced as the 2014 winner.

“We received a record number of entries for both the Established Business and Pre-Venture categories this year – a reflection of the entrepreneurial culture that is growing in Gwinnett,” said Mark Farmer, Director of Entrepreneurship for Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development and Partnership Gwinnett. “As we work to facilitate the success of startups and small businesses in Gwinnett County, this contest allows us the opportunity to provide much-needed support to local entrepreneurs.”

The 2014 Contest is presented by Jackson Electric Membership Corporation and The Myers Group. Randy Dellinger, Gwinnett District Manager for Jackson EMC, commented, “We are a proud supporter of the Amazing Entrepreneur contest and its efforts to nurture small business in Gwinnett. We believe that as these businesses grow and invest in the County, our entire community benefits.”

For more information on the Amazing Entrepreneur Contest, please To receive updates and reminders on Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development’s small business and entrepreneurial efforts, click here.

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