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WEI executive director, Theia Washington

WEI executive director, Theia Washington

ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed announced the opening of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) today at a celebration at the historic Flatiron Building downtown. Mayor Reed was joined by city and business leaders to open the offices of WEI, an incubator for women entrepreneurs that will provide resources and support to accelerate business growth.

“I am extremely proud of the commitment we’ve made to women entrepreneurs in the City of Atlanta with the creation of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative,” said Mayor Reed. “Today’s opening is an important step forward to ensure that ambitious women who are willing to take the risk necessary to put their visions in motion will have all the support they need to be successful.

“In partnership with Invest Atlanta, the Reed Administration secured funding and office space to maximize the success of the WEI’s entry into Atlanta’s growing entrepreneurial community. The WEI is a result of the city’s ongoing efforts to harness the power of women-owned businesses and emerging entrepreneurs for the socio-economic advancement of Atlanta.Through a competitive selection process, 15 women entrepreneurs were selected to incubate their business at the WEI. Over the course of 15 months, the entrepreneurs will have access to practical business education, financial capital and business support services.

“This is an amazing time to be not just an entrepreneur, but an entrepreneurial woman in the City of Atlanta,” said WEI executive director Theia Washington Smith. “Our region ranks number one in the U.S. for the number of women-owned firms, and our unique incubator will help even more women here succeed.”

The 15 women selected for the inaugural class are: Lynn Lilly, CraftBox Girls; Melanie Rhodes, MelanCo. Enterprises/DSS Experts; Samantha Hodgkins, SparkFire Active LLC,; Joanna Douglas, Parketing; Dawn Belisle, Delights by Dawn; Jeannell Darden, Cococurls; Jennifer Bluemling, Borrowed By Design; Sherry Popovic, cME compete; Cicely Gay, Amplifiers Inc.; Logan Williams, Rapid Parking Solutions; Adrienne Brown, Adrienne J. Media; Tiffany Ray, Generation Infocus, Monica Hooks, m-oracle; Sheila Woodhouse, DoxMed; and Tonya Hicks, Women Do Everything.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege for me to be involved with the WEI program,” said Home Depot chief financial officer Carol Tomé, who also chairs WEI’s six-member advisory board. “I am grateful for Mayor Reed’s vision to create an initiative that provides opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Atlanta.”

WEI will be housed on the 11th floor of the downtown Atlanta’s iconic Flatiron Building – the city’s oldest standing skyscraper. The 40,000 square foot landmark is undergoing a transformative journey to intersect its historical character with cutting-edge innovation and design. This unique collaborative space will serve as a technologically-advanced backdrop to Atlanta’s emerging and existing entrepreneurs, seeking to foster their business growth in a space that is engaging, energetic and supportive of bold ideas.

The WEI incubator lasts for 15 months, and is cyclical. Applications for the next class of entrepreneurs will be available in early 2017.

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