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TechTown job seminar empowers women Ashleigh Dandridge | Posted: Sunday, May 8, 2011 12:00 am TechTown, Wayne State University’s research and technology park, hosted its monthly “First Friday” event May 6, showcasing women entrepreneurs and helping the speakers grow their businesses. Speakers at the event ranged from a social worker who started her own Detroit touring business to a woman who helped turn around 11 hospice programs in the metro-Detroit area. TechTown helps stimulate job growth and mentors entrepreneurs in growing business ventures. It offers services, support and other resources to make businesses successful. The evening started with speaker Yvonne Murray, founder of Comprehensive Sleep Solutions, speaking about how her 6-year-old daughter inspired her to become an entrepreneur after she lost her job when the company she worked for downsized. “I want her (my daughter) to know she does not have to work for somebody else, but the choice is available for her to work for herself,” Murray said. Murray also talked about the obstacles she faced when first starting her business. “I don’t take the word ‘no’ well, so every time I got a ‘no,’ I just said, ‘I’m getting closer to a yes,’” she said. Murray then introduced the president and CEO of the Michigan Women’s Foundation, Carolyn Cassin, who talked about the importance of women creating jobs in Michigan. Cassin has headed the acquisition of 11 hospice programs and their merger into one corporation. She also started the Adventure Fund and the Angel One Fund, which enable women to start open in browser PRO version

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and expand their businesses. Cassin explained how she encourages women and girls to go beyond having a typical career. “You can be an investor, you can take that money and turn it into wealth for you and for your community and for your family,” she said. Clinical social worker Linda Yellin spoke next. She created her “Feet on the Street Tours” business, which focuses on promoting Detroit through cultural tourism. Yellin said her inspiration for the company came from the negative images and ideas the media focuses on when talking about Detroit. “I was sick of people bashing the city, whether they lived in the city or the region, or the people who haven’t left their neighborhoods who didn’t understand what Detroit really has to offer,” said Yellin. Yellin’s “Feet on the Street Tours” include “Eastern Market: Come Hungry, Leave Happy” and “Prohibition and All That Jazz.” Debi Scroggins, founder of the Bearclaw Coffee Company, followed Yellin. After 17 years as a customer service supervisor at Northwest Airlines, and the deaths of her son, grandfather and father within less than a year, Scroggins decided life is too short; she decided to work for herself. “Life changes. You don’t know what’s black or white or what’s up or down,” Scroggins said. “But I found the strength inside of me to focus on something positive.” Scroggins emphasized that being a woman entrepreneur can be challenging. “...(Women) have to work smarter, work harder because we are not a part of the good old boys network,” Scroggins said. The evening concluded with speaker Latonya Nicole Barber, founder of Eloquents Enterprise, LLC, Event Planning and Consulting Company. She also started Detroit Rising Starts, a performing arts camp for disadvantaged Detroit youth. open in browser PRO version

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Barber launched “If These Hands Could Talk,” an adult sign language program derived from Detroit Rising Starts, in 2008. Barber talked about how leadership is the key component to a successful business. “Be a leader, not a follower,” Barber said. “I try to pour this advice into younger women: while you have the time make your dreams come true, don’t waste your time.”

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