Thursday, February 18, 2010


COLUMBUS – Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Director of the Ohio Department of Development, and Greg Landsman, Director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, today announced Pearl Interactive Network, LLC as the recipient of the 2010 Ohio Social Entrepreneur Award. The award recognizes the community and economic contribution made by Ohio’s small business owners who create jobs for socially and economically disadvantaged Ohioans. Pearl Interactive was recognized this afternoon at an event keynoted by First Lady Frances Strickland.                                                        
"The Department is proud to recognize Ohio’s social entrepreneurs who help create jobs for individuals who might not otherwise be able to find work,” said Patt-McDaniel. “We congratulate this year’s Social Entrepreneur awardees for their extraordinary commitment to bettering our state and the lives of our citizens.”

In conjunction with National Entrepreneurship Week, the Department’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division and the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives sponsored the Ohio Social Entrepreneur Award and selected the winner based on criteria that included adopting a mission that creates and sustains both private and social value, and conceptualizing a solution that creates or promotes the earning potential and/or alleviates the economic suffering of the socially and economically disadvantaged population. 

“It is important that we lift up and recognize the work of our entrepreneurs, especially when they are creating jobs for Ohioans who face multiple barriers to employment,” said Landsman. “By highlighting these efforts, we also hope to encourage other businesses and nonprofits to consider the very real power they have to transform lives and strengthen our communities by providing job opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged populations.”     
Eight companies and organizations were recognized, of those recognized, Pearl Interactive Network, LLC was selected as the statewide Social Entrepreneur of 2010. Pearl Interactive Network is a virtual home-based business process outsourcing firm and a social enterprise. Pearl Interactive Network’s Candidate Recruitment Division assists organizations with Equal Employment Opportunity compliance by recruiting potential employees from diverse backgrounds including  transitioning veterans, people with disabilities, mature workers, and military spouses and caregivers. 
With funds received from the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission’s Governor’s Initiative Award, Merry Korn, Owner of Pearl Interactive Network, purchased a Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system which she had configured with assistive technologies that enabled people who cannot use their hands or eyes to work. To date, this technology has resulted in the creation of 50 jobs that are staffed by people who are either blind or quadriplegic.  
Korn’s efforts in hiring the socially and economically disadvantaged have resulted in several awards including the Governor’s Council on Disability Employer of the Year - Small Business (2007), Ohio Rehabilitation Services Association Employee of the Year (2008), and TechColumbus Outstanding Technology Woman Business Owner. In addition, Korn has been the subject of several published best-practice articles.   
The other companies and organizations that were recognized during the 2010 Ohio Social Entrepreneur Award ceremony were:
The Durable Slate Company (Columbus)
Freedom House (Ravenna)
Hyde-N-Seek Designs (Pickerington)
New Directions Career Center (Columbus)
Nightsweats & T-cells Co. (Cleveland)
Pearl Interactive Network, LLC (Columbus)
The Voice of Your Customer (Cincinnati)
WASCO, Inc. (Marietta)  
The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division are working together to expand social entrepreneurship, low-profit ventures developed by for-profit and nonprofit organizations in response to a social problem. Through the Ohio Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, interested organizations can access financing and funding information, training resources, and examples of organizations working to establish social enterprises.  
The awards event was sponsored by Telhio, Wendy’s, Berner Natural Cheese Co., LLC, and the Ohio Grape Industries Committee.
The Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division’s mission is to provide innovative programs and services to Ohio entrepreneurs and small business owners, through effective communication, collaboration, creativity, and technology support to encourage sustainable growth.
Working with our partners across business, state and local governments, academia, and the nonprofit sector, the Ohio Department of Development works to attract, create, grow, and retain businesses through competitive incentives and targeted investments. Engaged every day in marketing, innovating, investing, and collaborating, the Ohio Department of Development works at the speed of business to accelerate and support the teamwork that is absolutely necessary for success by providing financial, informational, and technical assistance to those making an investment in Ohio’s future. 
The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives serves as a catalyst for effective public-private partnerships in an effort to improve lives and strengthen communities. The office works to promote these partnerships and to remove barriers for faith-based and community organizations and nonprofits seeking to access funding and training opportunities.


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