DC Chamber Honors Impactful Small Businesses at 2023 Summit


Norma Kelly, for DC Chamber of Commerce 818-395-1342/[email protected]

Honorable Mayor Muriel E. Bowser Joined The Chamber in Celebrating Local Businesses

WASHINGTON, DC (May 10, 2023) – The DC Chamber of Commerce announced its 2023 Small Business Award recipients who were honored during its annual 2023 Small Business Summit on May 9th at the Washington Convention Center.

The DC Chamber of Commerce 2023 Small Business Summit convened leaders from across local & federal governments and the small business industry for a deep dive into the state of the District of Columbia’s small business industry and the future vision, policy, and programs for all businesses. This year’s Summit featured a dedicated retail track with educational content tailored to small retailers, as well as a Makers Market.

The morning keynote speaker was Gina Shaefer, CEO and Co-Founder, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a chain of ACE Hardware stores located in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Takoma Park, and Silver Spring in MD and Alexandria, VA. The luncheon keynotes included Honorable Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, D.C., and Mike Caralis, Vice President, Business Sales, Verizon Business.

“We are pleased to celebrate small businesses in Washington, D.C. who serve as the backbone of our thriving business community,” said Angela Franco, President and CEO, DC Chamber of Commerce. “On behalf of the Chamber, I would like to congratulate our awardees for their business excellence and for demonstrating their resilience as we continue to rebuild and recover.”

Angela Franco, President and CEO, DC Chamber of Commerce and the Honorable Mayor Muriel Bowser, Mayor, congratulated the DC Chamber of Commerce and Department of Small and Local Business Development award winners at the Chamber’s 2023 Small Business Summit.

(top row) Renata Philippe, Founder, Black Squirrel Company; Angelo Franco, President and CEO, DC Chamber of Commerce; Honorable Mayor Muriel Bowser; Brendon Miller,

Interim-President, Wacif; Earle “Chico” Horton III, Chair-Elect and General Counsel, DC Chamber of Commerce; (bottom row) Amanda Preske, Founder, Just Science; Madia Brown, President, Brandire; Cary Hatch, CEO, MDB Communications; and Kenyon Walker, CEO, Zero Waste Management.

The Chamber’s Small Business Awards categories and 2023 awardees include:

Small Business of the Year, Brandire
Brandire is an award-winning full-service strategy-focused, woman- and Black-owned Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) creative brand marketing communications studio with a desire to help their clients make an impact in the world – one story at a time. Founded in 2006 by Madia Brown, a career journalist of 13 years at The Washington Post, Brandire is constantly looking for new ways to improve its products and services to serve the greater good. Their strong focus on innovation has allowed them to not only help large institutions, like Johns Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Hospital, effectively tell their brand story, but also assist small- and emerging-business owners who need branding support the most. It’s this commitment to the business community that makes Brandire the Small Business of the Year.

Small Business Person of the Year, Cary Hatch, MDB Communications
As a native Washingtonian CEO, and an unwavering advocate for the District and greater Washington region, Cary Hatch is a long-standing champion of small, women, and minority-owned businesses. With more than 30 years of experience in advertising and marketing, Cary is the CEO of MDB Communications and has established a formidable track record in business and consumer communications, both domestic and international. Her broad-based client experience includes National Geographic, Fannie Mae, Destination DC, International Spy Museum, Sprint, and many others. She has been recognized on the POWER 100, the Washington Business Journal‘s list of the most influential business leaders, for four consecutive years. She currently serves as the Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Board of Governors for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, as well as the Washington DC Leadership Committee for the Ad Council and is a board member for the $2B University System of Maryland Foundation. It is an honor to recognize Cary as the Small Business Person of the Year for her outstanding leadership and success in small business.

Women in Business Champion, Betty J. Hines, Women Elevating Women
Betty J. Hines is a business strategist and founder of Women Elevating Women (W.E.W.), a business conference providing a platform where all women, multicultural, women of color, women veterans, women with disabilities, LGBTQ who are executives and entrepreneurs, can come together to openly share and to learn from each other. W.E.W. fosters a community where women want to elevate each other in their careers. Through her work, Betty serves as a powerful mentor, advocate, and pioneer for women in business with a powerhouse network of business owners that she advises, instructs, and elevates through her work as a business strategist. She has been honored for her work including a recent 2022 International SHE Award Honoree (Dubai UAE); the Women Presidents Organization (WPO) 2021 President’s Award for Facilitating Greatness and the 2020 International Adrienne Hall Award. Betty Hines’ work speaks for itself and makes her the perfect honoree for the Women in Business Champion award.

Non-Profit of the Year, Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif)
Established in 1987, the Washington Area Community Investment Fund’s (Wacif) mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington, DC area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. In 2022, Wacif dispersed over $25M in grants and loans to entrepreneurs and small business owners, provided advisory services to more than 700 entrepreneurs, and helped to create and retain over 5,200 local jobs. Wacif also acquired the Anacostia Arts Center (AAC) to create the largest center for entrepreneurship in the region, continuing its strategic community investments to drive equity and opportunity while honoring and uplifting support entrepreneurs and the creative economy. The AAC project is one component of Wacif’s commitment to invest $100 million in our communities, reach 5,000 entrepreneurs with advisory services, and help entrepreneurs create and retain 100,000 local jobs. The Chamber is proud to congratulate Wacif as the Non-Profit of the Year for their unwavering commitment to supporting the economic vitality of the District.

Small Business Champion of the Year, Comcast R.I.S.E.
The Comcast RISE (Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment) initiative was created in 2020 to help small businesses hard hit by COVID-19 recover and thrive and is one of several programs that Comcast has overseen that is aimed at achieving digital equity. In the past two years since launching the program, Comcast provided over $110 million in monetary, marketing, and technology grants and reached the program’s goal of supporting 13,000 small businesses owned by people of color and women. In DC, Comcast awarded 200 small businesses owned by people of color and women with $10,000 grants. This represents a $2M investment in the success of DC small businesses. Comcast has been intentional about partnering with organizations that have strong tentacles in the small business community, especially those whose beneficiaries or members have the greatest need. Comcast looks forward to introducing a new phase of RISE in 2023, which will continue our efforts and help an even broader range of small businesses while continuing our focus on diversity, inclusion, and community investment. For all that they do to invest and uplift the small business community, congratulations to Small Business Champion of the Year – Comcast R.I.S.E.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Amanda Preske, Because Science
Amanda Preske is a young entrepreneur who combined her passion for science with a love of art to create her company Because Science. Amanda began making jewelry out of broken circuit boards by casting them in resin to create pendants while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology. The result was striking, and craft show customers fell in love with the interplay between art and science. After successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis, Amanda directed all of her energy toward growing her business as one of the most prolific creators of handmade and custom circuit board art in the world. Amanda took the leap of faith to open her first brick-and-mortar store this year in Adams Morgan in a retail space that had been vacant for years. The Chamber congratulates Amanda Preske as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year for her creative passion to make her business dreams a reality.

The luncheon also featured the presentation of the Department of Small and Local Development (DSLBD) annual 2023 Small Business Awards by Director Kristi C. Whitfield including:

  • CBE of the Year, Kenyon Walker, Zero Waste Management.
  • Made in DC Maker of the Year, Renata Philippe, Black Squirrel Company
  • Retailers of the Year, Scott Abel and Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, Solid State Books

About the DC Chamber of Commerce
The DC Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in the Washington DC region. As an advocate for the DC business community for 85 years, the DC Chamber of Commerce is the voice for businesses in the District of Columbia, proudly serving a diverse membership of more than 1,100 members. For more information, visit https://www.dcchamber.org.

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