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NAWBO Kentucky celebrates 30 years by honoring women in their network

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The National Association of Woman Business Owners (NAWBO) Kentucky hit a major milestone this year; 30 years of business in the Bluegrass. To celebrate this achievement, they are honoring women business owners from across Kentucky and southern Indiana at their Annual EPIC Awards luncheon. The EPIC Award event is a time to gather as a group of businesswomen and acknowledge the amazing leaders throughout the state. NAWBO will present multiple awards at the EPIC event this year, and the three finalists for each award are in. The first award is for the Woman Business Owner of the Year. The finalists are Christine Smalley of Fort Thomas Coffee, Jesika Young of Cimtech Machine, and Crinda Francke of ExecuTrain, Inc. Christine Smalley is the owner and president of Fort Thomas Coffee, located in Fort Thomas. FTC opened in March 2019 and will expand in June 2022 to include a wine and cocktail bar and business center. “Embracing community with a coffee shop fits our family mission perfectly,” said Smalley. Jesika Young is a team member, president, and CEO at Cimtech Inc., and Subsidiaries Action Material Handling/Axis Machine and Tool located in New Albany. Cimtech is a 47-year-old company that Young purchased in July 2018 and has been running since. “Despite the pandemic, we have consistently grown 33% year over year since 2019,” Young said. “We are now at 44 team members and going strong!” Crinda Francke is the president and CEO of ExecuTrain Corp. located in Lexington. Francke has been the owner of this business since May 1997, over 25 years. “ExecuTrain was the perfect fit for what I loved to do and what I had been trained to do,” Francke said. “… I knew I could make a difference for the women who work there and countless other women to come.” NAWBO will also give out the Next-Gen Women Business Owner of the Year, which focuses on the younger generation of women business owners to uplift them in their efforts. Finalists for this award include Brooke Corder of Squeaky Cleaners, LLC, and Aubrey Mealey of Aubrey’s Bed and Biscuit. Brooke Corder is the owner of Squeaky Cleaners, LLC, located in Louisville. This housekeeping, residential, and commercial cleaning services business opened in February of 2020. “I had always loved to clean, and I quickly learned that there is a big market for residential and commercial cleaners,” said Corder. “From there, the little idea turned into the beautiful dream that I have today.” Aubrey Mealey is the owner and CEO of Aubrey’s Bed and Biscuit, located in Lebanon, which was founded in January 2022. After years of experience working as a veterinary technician, Mealey discovered a need for a safe space for pets to stay when their owners are away. “Most of my clients compare it to an Airbnb for pets,” said Mealey. “I hoped to create a place where pets LIKE to come.” The third EPIC award is the Public Policy Catalyst of the Year, which honors women who have made a difference in our area through their continuous work on bettering public policy. Finalists for this award include Adriane Polyniak of Kentucky Cannabis Co., Councilmember Amanda Mays Bledsoe of Lexington Fayette County Urban Government, and Betty White of Betty White Real Estate. Polyniak works with the Kentucky Cannabis Co. LLC in Midway and has been involved in multiple policy changes  beneficial to women business owners. Some of those policies include the legalization of hemp, Shawna’s Law, and improved access to cannabis research. Councilmember Amanda Maye Bledsoe works with LFUCG in Lexington and has done so for eight years. She works with the Budget, Finance & Economic Development (BFED) committee, and has been the chair of the committee since 2018. One of her most notable accomplishments was overseeing the creation of a $5 million loan program for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program supported over 340 businesses, of which 35% were female-owned. White has been a realtor with Betty White Realty LLC, for over nine years. Before her career in realty, she was a school teacher for 32 years. Her knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom has helped her to become a champion for free enterprise in all facets of life. She works to ensure all parties in various outlets are following the constitution and the rights allotted to us through it. NAWBO is also establishing a new tradition this year of recognizing women business owners who have excelled in their careers for 30 or more years by adding another award, the Legacy Award. The winner of this award is Alice Houston, co-founder, president, and CEO of HJI in Louisville. The final two awards, NAWBO Corporate Partner of the Year and NAWBO Member of the Year, will be announced during the EPIC event. The NAWBO Kentucky EPIC Awards will take place Wednesday, May 18 at the Mellwood Arts Center in Louisville from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Event and award sponsorships are available for purchase, as well as tables and tickets to attend the luncheon. For more information on NAWBO Kentucky and the annual EPIC Awards, click here. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) was founded in 1975 and is the unified voice of over 11 million women-owned businesses in America, representing the fastest-growing segment of the economy. NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries with local chapters across the US. NAWBO began its first chapter in the Bluegrass state 30 years ago, and NAWBO Kentucky is now a thriving organization with a vision for statewide growth.