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City of Norcross Home Page News

Posted on: December 12, 2018

Women with Moxie Play Vital Roles Benefiting the City of Norcross

Created as a day to celebrate great women, the Gwinnett Chamber developed an exciting new program that recognizes women to watch and the outstanding organizations with which they are engaged.  One of the organizations that was recognized as a finalist in the Moxie Awards as an Enlightened Employer was Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE).  They were noted as “… an organization that has made positive changes to its workplace culture, as it assists in advancing women, while providing support for gender diversity and equality.”  With an office based in Norcross, ACE helps support the advancement of women in the community as well as within its own organization.

ACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides capital, coaching and connections to help its borrowers create and grow sustainable businesses that generate jobs.  ACE, founded in 1997 by Grace Fricks, serves small businesses in Georgia, with a focus on women, people of color, low-to moderate-income business owners, larger businesses and community facilities that create jobs.  Since 2000, the year the first loan was made, ACE has loaned more than $56 million to over 850 entrepreneurs, who have created or saved more than 7,300 jobs in Georgia.  Sandra Font is the Director of the ACE Women’s Business Center in Norcross − housed in the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center.

A particular area of interest for ACE is women in entrepreneurship, and the ACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) was opened in Norcross in 2015.  It opened to empower women and low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs through financial education and training.  By the end of 2018, the WBC had served over 1,500 entrepreneurs, provided 306 one-on-one consultations and helped 23 business owners start their businesses.  In 2018, 74% of the WBC clients were women (although the center focuses on assisting women, support to men is also provided). 


 ACE was also acknowledged for the manner in which their corporate culture supports work-life balance and is a workplace women appreciate because of the way they are immersed in serving entrepreneurs in our community.  The team of women that work at ACE enjoy the comradery of working with and helping all clients (including women business owners), not only through helping them get capital to help grow their businesses, but also by building relationships with each when providing coaching and connections.

One example is ACE’s High Potential Group, a group of women-owned business loan clients with revenue near or exceeding $500,000.  These like-minded entrepreneurs gather at lunch and learn group meetings and also receive tailored one-on-one financial consultations throughout the year.

ACE’s ripple effect not only has a positive impact on the individuals ACE serves directly, but also on their families, their employees and their communities.  When ACE provides a loan that supports a business and creates or sustains jobs, the state and local economy is strengthened.  ACE’s five-year plan through 2022, is to provide another $77 million to Georgia’s small-business community! 

While the impact of Grace Fricks and Sandra Font, and their ACE team on the City of Norcross can be readily seen and is instrumental in the success of the City’s economic development, there were also many other women recognized for the “moxie” they bring to their roles that benefit Norcross in many ways.  Some of these outstanding women include:

Melissa Zeigler who serves as Executive Coordinator for Capital Projects in The City’s Public Works and Parks Department – a finalist for the On The Rise Award“…a young professional considered as a force to be reckoned with.”  Shelly Schwerzler with the Gwinnett County Public Library was also a finalist for this award.

Marsha Anderson Bomar, Executive Director of the Gateway85 Community Improvement District was recognized as a finalist for the Influence Award “a woman who is making her mark in a field that is traditionally male-dominated – a true trailblazer.”  

Chairman Charlotte Nash, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, received the Greater Good Award – given to “… a Gwinnett County champion, with her big picture ideals making our area the optimal place to live, work, and play.”   Other finalists included: Lisa Anders, Explore Gwinnett;  Louise Radloff, Gwinnett County Board of Education;  Ann Sechrist, Gwinnett Technical College;  Lisa Zaken, Leadership Gwinnett; and others benefiting Norcross.

Accent Creative Group was recognized as a finalists for the Outstanding Organization Award“… a successful woman-owned/led business…exhibiting excellence that sets the standard.” 

Paige Havens, Marketing & Community Relations Consultant who has facilitated a number of community meetings in Norcross won the Pay It Forward Award for the “…generosity of her time, talent, and resources, making the community a better place because of her contributions.” 

Dr. Mary Kay Murphy serving on the Gwinnett County Board of Education was among the finalists for the Moxie Award – for a “…lady leader who is truly an inspiration, with a proven track record and a professional career on point.”

The Moxie Awards provide an opportunity to bring to mind all the women who provide invaluable talent and leadership to boards, organizations, and businesses throughout the City of Norcross. Their engagement is critical to the City’s community and economic development, and they too are to be commended!


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