During Small Business Month, two Racine companies were recognized as Small Business Administration (SBA) award winners for the state of Wisconsin. On May 23, state officials, community leaders and small business owners gathered at CoveredCare to celebrate the accomplishments of Donisha Nesbitt of CoveredCare and Marie Watkins of Polaris Talent as women business owners. Nesbitt received the 2022 SBA Wisconsin Emerging Small Business of the Year award while Watkins won the SBA Wisconsin Women in Business Champion award.
Racine Mayor Cory Mason, Congressman Bryan Steil, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Wisconsin District Office Director Eric Ness, Great Lakes Region Regional Administrator for the SBA Geri Aglipay, Tammy Baldwin rep Christopher Bogan and Ron Johnson rep Ginger Kollmansberger were on hand for the event. Also in attendance was WWBIC Senior Project Manager Heather Lux, who nominated the two small business owners for the awards.
According to Ness, in the Racine region, “nearly 94% of businesses are small and they employ more than 51% of the workforce. This does not include businesses without employees. We see the region’s small business employing over 37,000 people and generating over $1.4 billion in revenue each year.
Among these companies are CoveredCare and Polaris Talent.
Nesbitt launched CoveredCare, which provides non-medical home care, in 2015. When starting her business in Racine, she wanted to address three concerns.
First, Nesbitt focused on matching compatible care providers with people in need of home care. She has developed a matching system similar to those on dating sites, to match clients in need with a caregiver of their choice. Second, Nesbitt wanted to target the guilt associated with being a caregiver. Finally, it is intended to be a resource offering specialized services to meet the specific needs of the Racinian territory.
Since starting the business, located at 1006 Washington Ave., they have grown in both staff and revenue while meeting these three needs.
“I was a one-woman show when I started,” she recalls. “To see where the business has grown from those days to now, we have employed around 1800 people. Most of our caregivers have been with us for at least three years. She claims that around 85% of caregivers have been able to provide home-based services and helped grow his small business in Racine.
CoveredCare now offers respite care and community residential facility and passenger transport vehicle training to help make staff more employable. In addition to her accomplishments, she works with SBA partner WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation) to help lead economic development in the region. Nesbitt offers personalized training and advice; she has also participated in an acceleration program run by WWBIC and serves as a mentor and trainer. Additionally, Nesbitt owns two other businesses and is a member of his local Business Improvement District (BID).
Mayor Mason expressed his gratitude to Nesbitt, “It’s great to be in the middle of a real-world example of a small business showcasing their vision and trying to help the community. »
About Polaris Talent
Polaris Talent, a talent acquisition company, was founded by Marie Watkins in 2017 after spending 25 years in corporate HR. She returned from California to her hometown of Racine to launch Polaris, which now reaches people around the world.
Watkins started her business as a way to help women and minorities take their entrepreneurial ideas from vision to reality. Today, this idea has grown and expanded by helping all companies achieve more through their recruitment services and strategic HR advice.
She sees her mission as lifting others up and being part of the solution to breaking down barriers. Polaris Talent is two-thirds owned by women. His approach ? “I’m not a man, I’m not going to do the fuss. I’m not going to run a patriarchal business. I will do it with intuition, kindness and empathy,” said the entrepreneur.
She mainly works with small and medium-sized technology companies. These companies pay a monthly fee in exchange for all-inclusive workforce development and business planning. The business started with just three employees and grew to seven. Plus, it grew its revenue sevenfold.
Recently, Watkins applied for B Corporation status (certifying companies for positive social and environmental performance). She and her employees are supported by volunteering at least 20 hours a year. Watkins has been a speaker and has provided many hours of one-on-one mentorship for WWBIC, Gener8tor, and several educational organizations.
During COVID, Polaris used an SBA COVID-19 Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) and grant to address financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
“We hit close to $1 million last year during Racine’s COVID,” Watkins said. “This city is amazing. That’s why I came back and why I set up my business here.
Growth at Root through Small Business
“It’s really fitting that our two small businesses are diving in today, both probably challenged to find people to work for you, but you’re also trying to solve each other’s challenges,” said Congressman Bryan Steil. , one representative. for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.
These two entrepreneurs are supporting the workforce of tomorrow by creating jobs. In Racine, these two businesses help others support their families and generate work in the community. It is for their success and community dedication that they have been recognized.
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