Denver businesswoman SherrÐ¹ DeMao, owner and president of SLD Unlimited Marketing/PR, has been named the Small Business Administration (SBA) 2006 North Carolina Women in Business Champion of the Year.
According to a press release from the SBA, the award recognizes DeMao for her active support for legislative or regulatory action designed to help small business, her efforts to increase business and financial opportunities for women and her volunteer efforts to strengthen the role of women business owners within the community.
Brad Rivers, director of Gaston Collegeâ€™s small business center, wrote a letter to the SBA in support of DeMao.
â€œOver the last several years, DeMao has provided marketing seminars for small business owners and owners-to-be for the center,â€ said Rivers in the letter. â€œHer seminars have consistently been rated as excellent.â€
Rivers said that of the over 500 people that attended DeMaoâ€™s seminars in 2004 – 05, 58 percent were female.
He added DeMao is a very positive business influence to Gaston and Lincoln Counties.
DeMao was nominated for the award by Sandie Ridings, president of the Charlotte chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).
â€œSherrÐ¹ has been very involved in mentoring and educating businesswomen in public policy and other issues,â€ said Ridings. â€œShe gives a lot of her time and talent.â€
DeMao has traveled annually to Washington, D.C., since the mid 1990s.
â€œItâ€™s my way to get involved, having worked with small business for the past 20 years,â€ said DeMao. â€œBusiness owners need to be educated and build a consensus on issues. Iâ€™ve witnessed the frustration of business owners firsthand regarding taxation and government contract opportunities.â€
Two key issues DeMao is directly involved with are healthcare and procurement of national contracts for small business.
â€œThe insurance issues for healthcare are more at the state level,â€ said DeMao. â€œThereâ€™s never going to be national healthcare because the states control insurance.â€
DeMao recently chaired a national task force for uncovering needs of women business owners.
â€œThe task force was solely concerned on the procurement of government contracts for small business,â€ said DeMao.
In dealing with these and other issues facing small business owners â€“ such as taxation â€“ DeMao said small business owners are banding together.
â€œThese people are starting to see the power in unity,â€ said DeMao. â€œWeâ€™ve all realized that so many small business issues arenâ€™t things that are in small congressional committees. These issues are in the larger committees.â€
She added that some of the groups that have formed are becoming larger, such as Women Influencing Public Policy (WIPP).
â€œThe goal of WIPP is to bring these smaller groups together that have shared issues and concerns,â€ said DeMao.
Instead of going to Washington, D.C., later this year, DeMao said she will attend a public policy conference in California. Her next trip to the nationâ€™s capital will be in 2007.
by Jon Mayhew