SD CEO Women in Business Awards presented

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, May 16, 2016/Categories: 2016

Winners of the 2016 Celebrating Women in Business Awards were announced during the seventh annual "Celebrating Women in Business" Luncheon. Winners are (from left):  Ashley Harris, Quik Signs Jamie Jessen, Quik Signs Jessica Castleberry, Little Nest Preschool Helen Merriman, SD CEO Jennifer Baloun, Great Western Bank Sandra McNeely, Abbey Group Ltd.

The statewide awards are presented by the SD CEO, one of over 100 women's business centers nationwide established through the SBA's women's business funding.

The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) at Black Hills State University announced the winners of the Women in Business Awards during the seventh annual Celebrating Women in Business luncheon held today, May 13, at the Spearfish Holiday Inn Convention Center.

The awards program was designed to highlight the impact of outstanding women entrepreneurs across the state of South Dakota. Winners in the four award categories were:
  • Enterprising Business Woman: Sandra McNeely, Abbey Group, Ltd., Rapid City
  • Enterprising Young Entrepreneur: Jessica Castleberry, Little Nest Preschool LLC, Rapid City
  • Enterprising Business Team: Quik Signs, Kelsey Darling Owner/President, Spearfish
  • Enterprising Friend of Small Business: Jennifer Baloun, Great Western Bank, Rapid City
"We are so pleased to recognize these outstanding women who have truly made an incredible impact in their communities," says Helen Merriman, director, SD CEO. "Starting and growing a business is very challenging, and these woman continually validate the courage, determination, and savvy business knowledge it requires to start, grow, and sustain a successful business in South Dakota."

The Enterprising Business Woman Award was presented to Sandra McNeely, Abbey Group, Ltd., Rapid City. McNeely helped start Abbey Group Ltd. in 1993 to provide a full range of development services to diverse non-profit clients, both large and small. With offices in both Milwaukee, WI and Rapid City, Abbey Group has experienced great success and growth, and has expanded throughout the United States. McNeely also started Abbey legacy, a management consulting firm focused on guiding family businesses with strategic and succession planning.

The Enterprising Young Entrepreneur Award was presented to Jessica Castleberry, owner, Little Nest Preschool, LLC, Rapid City. Castleberry opened Little Nest Preschool in 2010 and has also taught many specialized art, music, dance, yoga, and drama classes for preschoolers, and shows her commitment to her community by volunteering on several area boards and associations.  Castleberry is an advocate for the early childhood educator community, is dedicated to mentorship, professional recognition for early childhood educators, and raising the bar for early childhood education in South Dakota.

The Enterprising Business Team Award was presented to Quik Signs, Kelsey Darling, owner/president, Spearfish. Quik Signs was started with the mission of making local and regional businesses more successful with creative marketing approaches and strategies. According to the team at Quik Signs, "We have built solid relationships with our clients by helping them meet their objectives with creativity and quality." The Quik Signs team is also a very involved group, with individuals sitting on several community boards, and participating and sponsoring activities and projects throughout the community.

The Enterprising Friend of Small Business Award was presented to Jennifer Baloun, business banker for Great Western Bank, Rapid City. With 17 years in the financial services industry and one of the few female business bankers in Western South Dakota, Baloun provides her clients a high level of service and establishing long-term relationships. In addition to SBA lending, a program designed to help small businesses obtain funding, she is very active in the Rapid City Community. Baloun looks for opportunities to lift up women in her community by volunteering for Dakota Horizons Girl Scouts, her local church, and by sitting on several boards and committees.

To learn more about the SD CEO, visit or call (605) 642-6435.

The SD CEO is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an expressed or implied endorsement of any of the components or participants' opinions, products or services. SD CEO operates under Cooperative Agreement SBAHQ-14-W-0018. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. All SBA programs and services are provided to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Accommodation will be provided to clients with Limited English Proficiency when requested in advance.

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