Great Lakes Women’s Council Earns National SBA Award

Great Lakes Women’s Business Council’s Director of Business Education Shawntay LaNesha Dixon (right) receives the Women’s Business Center of Excellence award from the U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman (center) at ceremony held in Washington D.C. to mark National Small Business Week.

The three-person Women’s Business Center team with the Great Lakes Women’s Council isn’t a big one, but it’s a good one.

Any doubt of that was erased at a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., marking National Small Business Week, when the GLWC was named

Women’s Business Center of Excellence by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

At the event, four Resource Partners were honored from across the nation.  Director of Business Education Shawntay LaNesha Dixon represented the GLWC and was lauded by the SBA for her work in development and with implementing business development programs.

“Under Shawntay’s leadership, the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council has been recognized as the Women’s Business Center of Excellence by the Association of Women’s Business Centers, a national SBA resource partner. They were also recognized by the SBA Michigan District as a Women’s Business Center of Excellence,” the SBA said in conferring the honor.

The Council has also been named as a Regional Women’s Business Center of Excellence.

“The award is a testament to the women’s businesses we serve and the impact we’re making with them,” Dixon said. “It’s a total team effort. Our WBC is small, so being able to make the impact really speaks well of the work our team does.”

The SBA noted that Dixon has also distinguished herself by “helping women entrepreneurs, representing their voices on Capitol Hill on multiple occasions, and sharing the impact women make on the economy and in their communities.”

Great Lakes WBC Executive Director Michelle Richards said the award is encouraging as the Council celebrates 40 years of developing women- and minority-owned businesses.

“With extraordinary professionals like Shawntay, we have been able to see the entrepreneurs we work with excel,” Richards said. “For example, Michigan’s Small Business Person of the Year, Tiffany Klingensmith, is one of our success stories. Her Unconventional Solutions makes composite repairs and applies protective coatings to safeguard industrial machinery.”

Dixon wrapped up National Small Business Week by announcing the launch of a new initiative of the Council’s Women’s Business Center, that started a cohort this spring, called LaunchU. The program helps early stage entrepreneurs turn their visions into reality.

“By providing support to early-stage businesses, we’re not only nurturing their growth but also fostering a more inclusive and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she said.

Dixon is a Certified Workforce Development Professional and a Certified Human Behavior Consultant. Her 20-plus year career as a leader in business and workforce development includes experience as a program manager, director of entrepreneurship, business trainer and coach.

While acknowledging the prestigious award was welcome, Dixon was quick to point out the team doesn’t do what it does in order to gain recognition.

“To receive the highest honor among 160 organizations is obviously a great honor,” Dixon said. “We don’t do the work we do for awards, but to be recognized by your peers is very gratifying.”