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The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) at Black Hills State University will host the third annual “Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon” at the Spearfish Holiday Inn May 17.  For the first time, state-wide awards will be presented in four categories to exemplary women in business.

Exhibits open at 10 a.m. and the event concludes at 1 p.m. The program includes guest speaker, Jackie Nettleton, president and CEO of Mountain Movers Construction, Rapid City; a resource booklet; business exhibits; and lunch.

The luncheon, which was originally held on the BHSU campus, has been moved to the Spearfish Holiday Inn to accommodate the growing number of attendees. The event recognizes and celebrates working women; many who are current entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, or women working within the business community.

“This signature event is designed to recognize the contributions of business women to our economy and their communities," says Helen Merriman, director of SD CEO.

New this year is a state-wide awards program, launched by SD CEO and designed to highlight the impact of South Dakota women entrepreneurs who have made a significant impact in business, and whose actions exemplify savvy business acumen, integrity, compassion, and commitment to community, according to Merriman. Award winners will be announced at the “Celebrating Women in Business” luncheon. Nominations have been received in four categories: The Enterprising Young Entrepreneur, The Enterprising Business Team, The Enterprising Business Woman and The Enterprising Friend of Small Business.

“We are also excited about this year’s event speaker, Jackie Nettleton. We believe participants will find her experiences insightful and inspiring. In a short period of time, Jackie’s leadership has been instrumental in the company’s growth from a start-up company  with an initial government contract of $1,500 to a growing group of companies that has more than $150 million in contracts,” said Merriman.

Nettleton, began in the residential market, but quickly moved into commercial construction with an emphasis on federal and state procurement.  Although Mountain Movers Construction began as a small start-up company, it is now comprised of eight companies and spans four states.

Mountain Movers’ first government contract came in 2006 and was $1,500. Within five years, Nettleton had signed $150 million in contracts. Because of its success, the company is able to sponsor numerous community organizations and has been excited to participate in community education and scholarship funds.

Nettleton also helps mentor three to six small business owners per month and enjoys sharing her experiences and lessons with those just starting out. Nettleton said she is thankful to be able to give back to the community that has been so good to her business.

Nettleton has won numerous awards including Region 8 SBA Business of the Year, SBA Small Business of the Year Award for South Dakota, and First Generation Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Register for the luncheon before May 7 to receive the Early Bird discount of $25. Starting May 8, the fee increases to $35. For more information or to register, contact the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity at 605-642-6435 or visit http://www.BHSU.edu/SDCEO.

The SD CEO is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), and is part of a network of more than 110 centers nationwide established through the SBA’s women’s business funding. While services are available to all those interested in entrepreneurship, there is a special emphasis on women, women veterans, Native Americans, the socially and/or economically disadvantaged, and youth entrepreneurs.