SD CEO announces new director

The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) at Black Hills State University, an award-winning nationally recognized Women's Business Center (WBC), announced today the hiring of Michelle Kane as its new director, following the planned retirement of its current director, Helen Merriman, in late October. SD CEO is the only women's business center in South Dakota, partially funded by the SBA, which provides services statewide and annually serves nearly 1500 participants.

Michelle will oversee the organization's continued mission to provide comprehensive business assistance, education, counseling, and training to current and prospective entrepreneurs from startups to expansion, and to foster economic and workforce development in South Dakota.

Prior to joining SD CEO, Michelle owned Black Hills PR, a public relations firm she launched in January 2011. Headquartered in Spearfish, Black Hills PR served local, regional and national clients with their public relations, social media management, and marketing strategy. As a sought-after speaker in the areas of entrepreneurship, digital strategy, and marketing, she also covered the region presenting and training at a wide range of conferences and workshops.

"Throughout my career, I've focused on staying up-to-date on marketing and technology trends while working alongside small business owners to help them reach their marketing goals, using best practices and a good dose of motivation," said Kane. "This passion and mission are exactly why I'm so excited to join the SD CEO team, where I'll drive continued success for entrepreneurs, small business owners and other professionals through training and counseling programs that founding director Helen Merriman, has so successfully created and grown."

In addition to a background in entrepreneurship, Michelle worked in early Silicon Valley at a high-tech boutique ad agency and in corporate communications for a semiconductor manufacturer. Other industry experience includes public relations, sales and marketing and management positions in financial services, telecommunications, medical and legal services.

"As Michelle moves into the leadership role of SD CEO, I look forward to working with her. Her energy and enthusiasm for helping others is contagious," said Eileen Hogen, Ph.D., and Dean, College of Business and Natural Sciences, at Black Hills State University. "The SD CEO has a great team in place and I'm excited to see where Michelle's great ideas and can-do attitude will take them and the organization.

Dean Hogan continues, "Founding director Helen Merriman leaves the organization in sound financial condition and with an excellent reputation. She is to be commended on her significant contributions and service to BHSU, the community and women entrepreneurs. Working with women across South Dakota in fifty of the sixty counties has truly had a significant impact on not only the lives of the women, but also in the businesses and communities in which they live and work."

Helen Merriman, outgoing director, SD CEO adds, "Having been with the SD CEO since its inception, and looking back now at our outstanding program growth, reach and real business impact, is something I will always cherish. With Michelle's proven ability to bring people together, plus her corporate and small business experience, she is the right person to move the SD CEO forward in its commitment to facilitate opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to support, nurture and advocate the development of prosperous businesses. I look forward to assisting in her transition until my retirement at the end of October."

Michelle is originally from Sacramento, CA, and earned her bachelor's degree from San Jose State University. She currently serves on the board of the Western Hills Humane Society and lives in Spearfish, with her husband, Mike, an English Teacher at Douglas Middle School in Box Elder and son, Jack.