Ahlers Designs Announced as Winner of Digital Growth Contest in Rhode Island

 

Thu 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.

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."

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."

Advanced Communications Services to Grow Ahlers' Business

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 Design

In 1989, Gail Ahlers formed Ahlers Designs, a company that has become known
for 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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