Cox New England Announces Ahlers Designs as Winner in Rhode Island

 Jan 22, 2009 2:52pm EST
Grand Prize Includes a Free Year of Service from Cox Business

WEST WARWICK, R.I., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ — The winner of the Digital Growth Contest, co-sponsored by Cox Business and Ladies Who Launch, is Gail Ahlers,owner of Pawtucket-based Ahlers Designs (www.ahlersgifts.com). The contest –
to support female business owners in several markets throughout the U.S. – was organized and managed by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and is an important component of its Cable Means Business
initiative.

View Video of the Award Day



As the winner, Ahlers will receive a prize package of services from Cox Business (www.coxbusiness.com) and the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (www.risbdc.org). Other prizes to be provided by Ladies Who Launch
include a virtual business roundtable discussion facilitated by founder Victoria Colligan and a feature on the winning business owners at www.LadiesWhoLaunch.com.

"This contest brought in a number of fascinating business success stories and provided us a unique opportunity to support women-owned small businesses," said Mark Scott, vice president of Cox Business. "Cox Business is thrilled to have been involved in this effort to recognize and support such talented women, especially during these tough economic times."

"I am so pleased to be selected for the Digital Growth Grant in Rhode Island," said Ahlers following a surprise presentation at her business this morning. "It's so meaningful for a company like Cox to reach out and invest in small businesses like mine as we try to take our companies to the next level. It's an investment in my company and the companies I support as an American
designer and manufacturer."

The Internet-based contest, which began in October 2008, required women business owners to write a brief essay expressing their views on the opportunities, challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship. A number of entries were received in Providence and other participating markets, representing a range of industries including catering, property management, educational
consultants, computer services and marketing firms.  Judges included representatives from Cox Business, the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University and Ladies Who Launch who reviewed and scored the entries.

Ahlers' Story
Gail Ahlers started her business, Ahlers Designs, in 1989. According to Ahlers, she has faced a myriad of issues as she managed her burgeoning business: among them, access to capital, establishing distribution channels, learning how to compete against foreign manufacturers, and finding new and better ways to communicate with target markets.

Along the way, she remained flexible and agile, adapting from a 400-square-foot basement studio to a 2,000-square-foot design and manufacturing studio in Pawtucket's Hope Artiste Village (www.hopeartistevillage.com).  She currently has four employees.

"We have changed our focus from fine jewelry to custom corporate gifts and events. Our biggest challege is designing of custom products that can compete with the standard items produced overseas. One example of our success was when
we created a clock for an insurance company's 75th anniversary. Originally the company asked for 500 pieces, but loved the clock so much that they increased the order to 3,000. The clock was so successful with their customers that the
clients reordered 7,000 more the following year."<!–more–>

Gail Marie Lynch, an associate of Ahlers, wrote in her contest submission on behalf of Ahlers Designs, "Her biggest hurdle now is to stay in touch with the changing market place with the use of more advanced communications technology
… She needs to take advantage of opportunities with the use of a reliable, responsive phone and Internet service system. It is a priority for doing business in today's hypercompetitive marketplace."

<strong>Advanced Communications Services to Grow Ahlers' Business</strong>
The Digital Growth Grant will support Ahlers' dire needs to upgrade her office communications to a more sophisticated and responsive system to meet the needs of a global market. According to her contest application, "this would include
a more reliable Internet connection to the Web."

As winner of the Digital Growth Grant in Rhode Island, Ahlers will receive a free bundle of Cox Business services for 12 months.  Services include Cox Business Video, Cox Centrex Telephone and Cox Business Internet with
PowerBoostTM, with speeds of 20Mbps upstream and 4 Mbps downstream.

"I'm looking forward to getting faster Internet and more reliable telephone service that will truly help our business grow," added Ahlers.

Additionally, Ahlers will receive free admission to any one- or two-hour course of her choice from the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, an organization with whom Ahlers has turned to many times during her business
career.

"Gail has been one of the most successful users of RISBDC's services in many years. That success has come about because of her perseverance and effort," said Doug Jobling, Director of Special Projects at the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at Johnson & Wales University. "In short, she thinks about the recommendations from RISBDC classes and counselors and implements the aspects that make the most sense for her company. As a result of Gail's concerted effort in many areas, she has matured from an artist doing business to a business owner in the art industry."

To learn more about the winners and the Digital Growth Contest, visit www.digitalgrowthcontest.com.

About Ahlers Designs

In 1989, Gail Ahlers formed Ahlers Designs, a company that has become knownfor quality gifts that enhance her clients' lifestyles and workspaces. The organization designs and manufactures a wide array of high quality products
and custom corporate gifts for clients around the world.  Ahlers has been awarded the "DeBeers Shining Light Diamond Design Award" for her unique awards and gifts. Ahlers graduated in 1985 from Rhode Island School of Design with a
BFA in Light Metals. She has studied art history in Paris and sculpture at the San Miguel de Allende Institute in Mexico.

Ahlers Designs is a female-owned and operated business, certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

About Cox Communications

Cox Communications is a multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company with 6.2 million total residential and commercial customers.  The third-largest cable television company in the United States, Cox offers an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet and telephony services over its own nationwide IP network. Cox Business is a
full-service, facilities-based provider of communications solutions for commercial customers, providing high-speed Internet, voice and long distance services, as well as data and video transport services for small to large-sized businesses.  Cox Media offers national and local cable advertising in traditional spot and new media formats, along with promotional opportunities and production services.  Cox Communications wholly owns and operates the Travel Channel.  More information about the services of Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com, www.coxbusiness.com, and www.coxmedia.com. 

About the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center
The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center program is a unique alliance of partners dedicated to providing counseling and assistance to the RI business community. Center services are primarily funded by the US Small Business Administration, with additional funding/grants from the RI Economic Development Corporation, Johnson and Wales University, and the private sector. The Center is administered by Johnson & Wales University, America's Career University. This allows for direct access to many of the business development, and management programs and curriculum which have been developed by Johnson and Wales University. The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center provides no cost consulting services to businesses requesting assistance and conducts a variety of training programs.

About Ladies Who Launch
Ladies Who Launch is the first new media company to provide resources and connections for women entrepreneurs. Women are launching businesses at twice the rate of men, and they are doing it primarily for lifestyle reasons-they want more freedom, flexibility, and creativity in their lives. The Ladies Who Launch mission is to make entrepreneurship accessible to any woman with a project, dream or aspiration to start her own business and be successful.  We have found a definitive link between launching a business and higher self-esteem and happiness for women; it is our hope that women will come to
Ladies Who Launch and take advantage of trusted community, tools, resources and success stories to live their dreams.

About Cable Means Business
Cable Means Business is an initiative of CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, which is dedicated to helping the cable business grow. As a non-profit professional association, CTAM provides marketing education and networking opportunities to more than 5,500 members and facilitates unified, national cooperative marketing efforts on behalf of its corporate members.  Business owners can learn about cable's services at www.cablemeansbusiness.com.

SOURCE  Cox Communications
Amy Quinn of Cox Communications, +1-401-615-1185

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