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Winners Announced in Citi and IVMF's 'Realizing Your Dream' National Business Competition for Veterans and Military Spouses

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Citi and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) today announced the winners of the second Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream Business Competition, an opportunity for veterans and military spouses who are established or aspiring entrepreneurs to submit formal small business plans and compete for a share of $130,000 in seed funding from the Citi Foundation.

The Realizing Your Dream competition is open to all graduates of the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Boots to Business (B2B) and Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) entrepreneurship training programs. The final judging and competition occurred during the IVMF's V-WISE regional conference in Washington, D.C. from May 28-30.

During the conference, 20 semifinalists had the opportunity to present a 15-minute business plan pitch and engage in 10 minutes of Q&A with a panel of expert judges. The program culminated on May 30, when six finalists, three each from the V-WISE and B2B semifinalist groups, presented a final 90-second pitch live to the entire V-WISE audience, who voted by ballot for the winners.

The following veterans and military spouses are this year's Realizing Your Dream award recipients:

V-WISE:

First Place: $25,000
Angela Cody-Rouget, Major Mom
(Bio provided at close of release)

Second Place: $15,000
Leah Olszewski, FEMTAC

Third Place: $10,000
Michelle Fryc, Leadership, Learning and Excellence (L2E)

Best Social Venture: $5,000
Beverly Grandinson, Premier Health + Wellness Consulting, LLC

Most Innovative Venture: $5,000
Leah Olszewski, FEMTAC

Best Venture Impacting Veterans: $5,000
Rosemary O'Brien, Pocket Parks Publishing

BOOTS TO BUSINESS:

First Place: $25,000
Timothy Page, Beltway Express AutoSpa
(Bio provided at close of release)

Second Place: $15,000
Robert Webb, BIODTECH LLC

Third Place: $10,000
Matthew Brady, Path2Hired.com—A Job Hunter's Secret Weapon

Best Social Venture: $5,000
Timothy Page, Beltway Express AutoSpa

Most Innovative Venture: $5,000
Robert Webb, BIODTECH LLC

Best Venture Impacting Veterans: $5,000
Meegan Mackay, Artes pro Vita Academy—skills for L.I.F.E.TM

In partnership with Citi, the Realizing Your Dream Business Competition is part of Citi Salutes, a firm-wide initiative that serves the greater veteran community by partnering with veteran service organizations to build their capacity to advance key initiatives in the areas of employment, financial capability, housing, and entrepreneurship.

"Citi values the role of veterans in this country and will continue our commitment to help equip them with the financial tools to boost their abilities and livelihoods," said Suni Harford, Citi's Regional Head of Markets for North America. "Congratulations to our winners and all of the competitors. We are excited to see how their businesses grow as a result of this opportunity."

The Accion U.S. Network, the nation's largest nonprofit micro- and small business lender, serves as a strategic partner by offering the opportunity for veteran entrepreneurs who graduate from the IVMF's training programs to be considered for business capital access opportunities. For more information visit us.accion.org.

"Veteran entrepreneurs already have a major impact on the U.S. economy, owning 2.5 million businesses and employing over nine million Americans. This year's Realizing Your Dream competition is a heartening reminder that the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs is already well on its way to success," said James Schmeling, IVMF Managing Director for Programming and Co-Founder.

Created as a partnership between the IVMF and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), V-WISE and Boots to Business are the nation's leading entrepreneurship training programs for veterans, active duty service members and military family members, positioned to empower participants to launch and/or grow sustainable business ventures. V-WISE, which consists of a 15-day online course in addition to the three-day conference and ongoing post-program support, is open to all women veterans, active duty (including National Guard and Reserve) and women spouses/partners of active duty and veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship and the desire to start and grow their own business. Boots to Business is a three-phase training program that introduces and trains transitioning service members to business ownership. It is open to all transitioning military personnel and their spouses from all branches of service.

ABOUT ANGELA CODY-ROUGET, MAJOR MOM, V-WISE First Place, $25,000 Winner

Angela Cody-Rouget
is the founder and owner of Major Mom® and one of three Certified Professional Organizers in Arizona. Angela spent 14 years dedicated to serving her country in the U.S. Air Force, where she attained the rank of Major in the USAF. Her husband nicknamed her Major Mom after their first child was born, and in 2005, she resigned her commission to return home to her two children. She worked as a corporate sale representative for five years and then started her organizing company in 2006. She earned a BA in Speech Communication at Indiana University and an MBA from University of Colorado.

Angela has been building the Major Mom brand for eight years and currently has a team of 16 employees in four states. Major Mom is based out of Greenwood Village, Colorado, but Angela is now looking ahead to franchise the business. Angela feels she was born to create order out of chaos. She is on a mission to restore order to the world, one household at a time!

ABOUT TIMOTHY PAGE, BELTWAY EXPRESS AUTOSPA, Boots to Business First Place, $25,000 Winner

Timothy D. Page, a Major in the U.S. Army is scheduled to retire October 1, 2015 after 26 years of service to the country. Born and raised in Joliet, Illinois Major Page enlisted into the U.S. Army after graduating from high school. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 2001 and is currently assigned to 1st Army Division East, Fort Meade, Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Since October 2013, when he decided to retire from military service, Major Page has been pursuing his life dream of being a business owner. He attended Sonny's Car Wash College and gained valuable insight into the car wash industry. With the knowledge, vision and passion in place, he started working tirelessly on developing a plan for Beltway Express AutoSpa. His concept is designed around the revitalization of a community and the renovation of an existing car wash location (in Forestville, Maryland) into a modern, eco-friendly, state-of-the-art car wash. According to Major Page, "Beltway Express AutoSpa will provide the surrounding communities with a low-cost, consistent and convenient option to clean their vehicles."

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at http://vets.syr.edu.

ABOUT CITI

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi

CONTACT: FOR MORE INFORMATION Wayne Westervelt Director of Communications Institute for Veterans and Military Families (315) 443-5690 wwesterv@syr.edu

Source:The Institute for Veterans and Military Families