MELBOURNE, FLA. — weVENTURE Women’s Business Center (WBC) presented its inaugural IMPACT Grants at the 11th annual IMPACT Summit this month, providing direct funding to three women-owned small businesses on the Space Coast.
The recipients and grant amounts are:
- The Seaside Succulent, Leslie Thomas, $15,000
- Chef’s Kitchen South, Lacy Bussey, $10,000
- Vitaglide, Marcy Ullom, $5,000
The three finalists pitched their businesses live on stage at the 2023 IMPACT Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn Oceanfront in Cocoa Beach. The half-day business leadership conference drew 300 professional women for networking and valuable training and development sessions.
The winning businesses were the first to be recognized under weVENTURE’s IMPACT Grant program. Funding was raised by the League of Extraordinary Investors, and proceeds from the Mission Moment at the 2023 Wine Women & Shoes Space Coast fundraising event were used, as well.
A panel of judges, comprised of members of LEI and Florida Tech faculty, reviewed 18 applicants to select the finalists.
“October is National Women’s Small Business Month, so the timing is fitting as we spotlight and assist these outstanding recipients,” said Kathryn Rudloff, executive director of weVENTURE. “We understand the largest challenge facing these and may other small businesses is accessing capital to help facilitate business growth, and we are committed to supporting others with future IMPACT grants.”
The IMPACT Summit keynote speaker was Laura DiBella, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida and immediate past Florida Secretary of Commerce. She shared her perspective on the state’s economic outlook from her unique vantage point as a member of the governor’s cabinet and business leadership team.
In addition to the keynote address, attendees attended informative breakout sessions focused on business communication, management and strategy. Topics included:
- effective communication in hybrid work environments;
- intergenerational communication;
- intellectual property;
- profit-first management;
- AI uses for small business;
- and how to determine a business’s valuation.
The event also featured panel discussions on mental health in the workplace and the duality of strong feminine leadership.