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The Fire Within 2015

The Fire Within Burns Towards 5th Annual Awards
Great Falls Development Authority Opens Nomination Period
Nomination Form
Deadline: 1/31/15
Submit Nominations or Questions to Jason Nitschke,
Nominations have opened for the Inspire and Aspire awards which will be given at the 5th Annual The Fire Within, an event celebrating area women entrepreneurs.
The Great Falls Development Authority, host of the annual event, is calling on the community to submit their nominees for women doing amazing business. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2015.
The Inspire Award honors a successful woman entrepreneur whose business serves to motivate others pursuing their dreams. Aspire honors a women who has recently realized her dream of business ownership.
“It takes courage to take that fire burning inside and move it into action and start a business,” GFDA’s Rebecca Engum said. “To be a woman and do that takes even more courage. That is why this event is so important. It builds an environment where women can support each other and be recognized for their huge efforts.”
The event was created in 2011 by a talented and dedicated team of GFDA team members. “The opportunity to celebrate amazing women, heading amazing businesses that are creating jobs in our community is an honor,” said Lillian Sunwall, co-creator of the event.
Opening the nomination period in October also serves as GFDA’s recognition of National Women’s Small Business Month.
The winners will be selected by a committee of area business leaders ranking nominations based on professional achievement, leadership, community involvement, impact and the entrepreneurial flame within.
All women who have started businesses in 2014 will also be recognized during the event.
“The reception this event has had with women entrepreneurs is beyond my belief,” Engum said. “The event has grown over 130% over the four years. That is impressive.”
The Fire Within celebration will be held March 26, 2015 from 6-8 PM at the University of Great Falls. There is no cost to attend. Sponsorship opportunities for this event are still available.
For more information and to submit nominations, please contact Jason Nitschke at 406-771-9022 or
The Great Falls Development Authority is a non-profit organization that offers a variety of loan products, business assistance services and economic development benefits throughout north-central Montana. For more on GFDA, please visit
Past Winners

Aspire Award
2011: Cindy Cieluch, Cindy Cieluch Photography
2012: Kari Lane Johnson, My Viola Floral Studio
2013: Tracy Perry, The Blue Rose
2014: Janet Neil, Bert and Ernie's
Inspire Award
2011: Cari Yturri, Bennett Motors
2012: Sandra Johnson-Thares, O’Haire Motor Inn
2013: Allison Fried, Dragonfly Dry Goods
2014: Penny Rubner, Penny's Gourmet to Go
The Fire Within began in March 2011. The event, to honor women business owners, is always held the last Thursday in March for Women’s History Month. The annual event is designed to honor all women business owners and in 2013, an award was added to honor any woman who started a business in the past year. The Fire Within is designed to give an opportunity for women business owners to connect with other women business owners and to celebrate start-ups, Aspire and Inspire award winners.
Both the Aspire and Inspire awards are chosen based on four areas: Professional Achievement; Business Leadership; Community Involvement; Impact. The Aspire award is given to a woman who has been in business for 5 years or less and the Inspire award is given to a woman who has been in business for longer. Nominations are opened in the fall and accepted until the end of January for the Aspire and Inspire awards. A volunteer committee reviews each of the nominations and ranks and discusses each then selects a winner. The awards were a way to simply recognize the massive effort of amazing women who run fabulous businesses.


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