Entrepreneur Wins $100,000

Central Illinois Female Business Owner Wows Competition Judges With Her Passion for Business, Need for New Tech Equipment

CHICAGO, Ill., February 7, 2012 – Jennifer Bias, president of Ficek Electric & Communication Systems, in LaSalle, Ill., has won $100,000 in free technology products and business services in the third annual “Small Business Technology Makeover Competition,” presented by the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), in a collaborative partnership with sponsors CDW, COSi, Constant Contact, Directions Training Center, MarketM, Falkor, Microsoft, The Microsoft Store and RCN.
Bias was named the winner on January 31, after judges, representing the sponsors, interviewed four finalists.

Ficek Electric & Communication Systems is an electrical and low-voltage contracting firm specializing in electrical construction, voice and data low-voltage cabling, telephony and security systems. Established by her father, Bill Ficek, Jennifer joined the company as a secretary and worked her way up the corporate ladder to become president.

In her application, Bias wrote that while technology had a big presence in their 27-person office, they have an aging computer network and personal computers that are “approaching end-of-life.” The company, she continued, lacks certain technology-based solutions that would save time and improve their overall performance. With the prize package, they will be able to produce online training videos to be available on-demand to customers. The sales team will now have laptops for product demonstrations in the field. The technology upgrade will also enable them to utilize some of the features in their business software, such as electronically collecting hours and service information from field staff. Bias also intends to rebuild the company website and incorporate social media and email marketing into her existing marketing efforts.

“The judges were moved by Jennifer’s passion for her company’s mission, as well as her incredible entrepreneurial spirit,” said Hedy M. Ratner, co-president with Carol Dougal of the WBDC. “She was very clear about how the top prize would impact her company.”

The competition was open to Illinois-based companies that have been in business at least two years, maintain a minimum of five employee workstations and have at least $1-million in annual revenue.

The prize package included a small business server; 1 networked printer; 1 projector; 2 headsets; 7 laptop computers; $30,000 scholarship to Executive Business Training; website development, including brand design and content; installation and configuration hardware, labor and support; 5 licenses of Microsoft Small Business Server Premium 2008, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 and Windows 7 Ultimate; full suite of email marketing products; and complimentary registrations for up to 4 employees to the WBDC’s 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference.

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The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is the largest, oldest and most comprehensive and successful women’s business assistance center in the U.S. Established 26 years ago, the center has initiated and helped develop women’s business programs in six states and is nationally recognized for its responsive, innovative and effective programs. For further information about the WBDC, visit their website at www.WBDC.org, or contact them at 8 S. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60603 or 312-853-3477.