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Entrepreneurs to offer advice to women at business conference

LaurRicketts Director Chicago Cubs   Chairman Board Chicago Cubs

Laura Ricketts, Director of Chicago Cubs & Chairman of the Board, Chicago Cubs

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Updated: October 20, 2012 6:20AM

Women entrepreneurs, who generate nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues nationally and employ nearly 7.7 million people, will be the focus at the Women’s Business Development Center’s 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference Thursday.

Chicago Cubs Co-Owner and director Laura Ricketts and Lisa Price, founder of the Carol’s Daughter skin and hair care line, will be among entrepreneurs speaking at the event.

The day-long conference, which targets women looking to expand or launch businesses, will include a Women’s Business and Buyer’s Mart with more than 200 corporate and government representatives looking to do business with women-owned companies.

Pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with corporate and government purchasing decision makers and certified women-owned companies will take place along with workshops and roundtable discussions and an “Ask the Experts” session.

The conference takes place at a time women enterprises are having mixed experiences amid the economic recovery, according to center Co-President Hedy Ratner.

“I think the environment is improving,” she said. “Women business owners are doing better, and they’re hiring and they’re growing,” but some continue to struggle, she said.

“What I’m seeing is there are more and more women coming to the Women’s Business Development Center. Established businesses are coming to get more help with capacity building, more help with access to capital, more help with contracting opportunities,” she added.

Ricketts will speak at the conference forum breakfast along with panelists Christie Hefner, executive chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises and former chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises; Sue Bhatia, CEO of Rose International; and Richelle Shaw, CEO of RTS Publishing. Chicago Sun-Times financial columnist Terry Savage will moderate the forum.

Price will deliver the keynote address at the Hall of Fame Awards luncheon. Carol’s Daughter natural beauty products are used by celebrities, including Jada Pinkett-Smith, Rosie Perez and Halle Berry.

Women entrepreneurs play a vital role in the economy, Ratner said. Indeed, women-owned businesses in Illinois have grown from 239,725 in 1997 to an estimated 366,700 this year — a 53 percent increase, according to a report released earlier this year by American Express Open. The figures were based on U.S. Census bureau data. The businesses employ 327,300 people in the state and generate $55 billion in revenues, the report estimates. Nationally the number of business has grown from 5.4 million to an estimated 8.3 million.

Tickets for the conference are $300, which includes access to all conference events. Individual tickets for the forum breakfast, the luncheon and the buyers mart are $125.

The conference takes place at McCormick Place West, 2301 S. Indiana Ave. with registration opening at 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit

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