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The 2011 Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis was a huge success! This year’s record-breaking attendance came as no surprise with names such as Ali Velshi, Angela and Vanessa Simmons, and Marvet Britto headlining the event.

Day one kicked off with a motivational keynote by Professor Dennis Kimbro; the Teenpreneur Conference rallied the ambitious youth in attendance; and the ever popular Deal Makers Expo led to business connections. Attendees learned from the one-on-one sessions with speakers such as Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter beauty products; entrepreneur and entertainer MC Hammer; and our very own chairman, founder, and publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. In a riveting race to the top, three winners (The Website Shop, The Frock Shop, and Body Quest Protein Ice Cream) took home $10,000 each for their stellar performance in the Elevator Pitch Competition and received critical feedback from judges Butch Graves, Star Jones, J. Anthony Brown, and Magnus Greaves.

Atlanta-based philanthropist and radio personality Frank “Ski” Rodriguez and his wife, Tanya, took home the Community Champion Award for The Frank Ski Kids Foundation. The other Small Business Awards recipients were Teenpreneur Award winner A.J.’s Hawaiian Iceez, Innovator of the Year winner MagnoGrip Inc., BE Next Award winner Roadstarr Motorsports Inc., and Small Business of the Year winner Coalescence L.L.C. At the BE 100s dinner, the Company of the Year awards were presented to Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C., Ross Buick/GMC and Mercedes-Benz, Burrell Communications Group L.L.C., and M.R. Beal & Co. The A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award went to Eddie Brown of Brown Capital Management L.L.C. and the Business Champion Award went to Herman Russell of H.J. Russell & Co.

We’d also like to thank our generous sponsors for their support: host sponsor Nationwide Insurance; presenting sponsors: American Express Open, Ariel Investments, Buick, PepsiCo,  and Walmart; and platinum sponsors AT&T, FedEx, Southern Co., United Healthcare, Wells Fargo, and Wendy’s.

—Monique Myles Carswell & Brittney Peters

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