(FLINT, MICH. – November 7) Growing a small business can be a daunting task and the value of mentors has been well documented.  Lorrie Sage, Owner of Special Occasions was able to grow her business with help from a group of professionals who provided the expertise she needed to take her business to the next level.  Her mentors were part of the ATHENA PowerLink program.  Tonight Sage was honored for completion of the program during the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce 2013 Business Awards banquet.  Nearly 300 people were on hand as Sage accepted the completion award. 

In 2012, Sage was selected to participate in the year-long ATHENA program.  Her selection was based on an application process and her alignment with the PowerLink requirements that include having a business that is at least 51 percent woman owned, a minimum of two years in business, at least two full-time employees and fulfillment of a minimum annual grow revenue requirement.
According to Tim Herman, CEO of the Chamber it is apropos to include Sage’s honor in tonight’s event.  He says the Business Awards are about celebrating businesses that have made a commitment to grow in the region, which is exactly what Sage is doing with Special Occasions.
“Nurturing the growth of businesses in the region is what the Chamber does,” said Herman.  “Recognizing Lorrie and her commitment to growing her business here in Genesee County was an exciting part of tonight’s event.  Because the ATHENA PowerLink program is all about mentoring and support through creating a strong mentoring network, it fits our mission.  Congratulations to Lorrie and the business leaders who have taken her under their wing throughout the last year.  As any business person can attest, having ‘go to’ people for advice is a very valuable resource.”
Deborah Harris, CEO of Michigan Fence Company and one of Sage’s PowerLink advisors describes working to support the growth of Special Occasions as very rewarding.
“It was great to provide support for Lorrie throughout the last year,” said Kennedy.  “The goal of the PowerLink program is to provide business advice and mentorship to help a woman-owned business reach its full potential.  The program gives small business owners access to business professionals like attorneys, accountants, other business owners and marketing professionals.  I loved working with Lorrie because she was very open to the process and our suggestions.  Now that the official process has come to an end, everyone involved will continue to be there for Lorrie and her company.  That’s really what PowerLink and ATHENA are all about.”
The local ATHENA PowerLink program is part a national program created to help women-owned businesses expand profitably through the use of professional advisory panels.  The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Committee (WBC) administers the program locally.  Additional members of the WBC served as PowerLink advisors for Sage, including: WBC Chair Dawn Crichton, Owner of Crichton’s Photography; Dian Panter, CEO of Placement Management Center (PMC); Jane Johnson, Senior Manager of Yeo & Yeo CPAs and Mary Kramer, Sales Manager of Holiday Inn Gateway.
Special Occasions is a linens rental company.  Based on the company’s rapid growth, Sage applied to the program to help manage the challenges that accompanied the growth she was experiencing.  After participating in the PowerLink program, she was able to implement several changes including a tracking system to track overtime and an inventory management system.  Sage was also able to restructure her business and better align her pricing with competitors.
For more information about ATHENA PowerLink or the Chamber’s Women’s Business Committee visithttps://www.flintandgenesee.org/connect/committees/womens-business-committee/.