(GEORGIA) Cecilia Russo Marketing, an award-winning full-service marketing and public relations firm, proudly announces the three winning recipients of the firm’s 15th Anniversary Entrepreneurship Grants in celebration of National Entrepreneurship Month. New business owners, startup companies, and budding entrepreneurs applied for a $5,000 grant, which pays homage to the first payment received by Cecilia Russo Marketing from its first client.

“We were overwhelmed by the state-wide response to our grant program, receiving over 630 applications from passionate entrepreneurs from as far north as Calhoun, Georgia to as far south as Valdosta, Ga. and everywhere in between,” said Russo Turner. “It was a really tough decision.”

The deserving recipients of the Cecilia Russo Marketing 15th Anniversary Entrepreneurship Grants are:

Carmella Alexander – C.A Publishing
C.A Publishing LLC is an innovative publishing company in Lawrenceville, Ga. that aims to provide inclusion for the special needs community. Its concentration is on creating books that cater to the unique needs and interests of children with disabilities, focusing on developing story dolls adapted for play by those with limited mobility. Additionally, they offer a range of complementary products, including apparel and souvenirs, all designed to promote inclusivity and foster a sense of belonging among individuals with special needs.

The grant award monies will be used to fund the production of story plush dolls, some of which will be adapted with a switch device to allow children with limited mobility the ability to bring their favorite inclusive stories to life and participate actively in imaginative play.

Maggie Lilly – Party of Hive
Party of Hive is a granola business owned and operated by Savannah, Ga. native Maggie Lilly. The company uses local honey and gluten-free oats, along with other high-quality ingredients, to make the tastiest granola on the market. Party of Hive has three different flavors of granola that sell retail on the company’s website and wholesale in several shops in Savannah and nine other shops in Ga. and two in North Carolina. Since launching as a cottage food granola business, the company has grown into a commercial business with a successful website and several wholesale accounts. The grant funding will empower Party of Hive to significantly expand its outreach efforts.

Rickey Brown III – RBIII Academy
RBIII Academy is a music education studio in Marietta, Ga. that provides private one-on-one sessions to students of all ages and levels. The academy was founded by a Howard University graduate who was looking for a way to continue pursuing his passion for music during the COVID-19 pandemic. RBIII Academy has quickly grown into a successful business, winning the Best Music School of Marietta 2022 award.

The academy will use the grant to invest in musical instruments and technology, ensuring that their students have access to the best resources available. They also plan to use the grant to build an inventory of slightly used high-quality instruments to offer subsidized pricing for lower-income students. The academy believes that music lessons have a profound impact on students’ lives, both intellectually and emotionally. They are committed to providing exceptional music education to students of all backgrounds, regardless of their financial situation.

The Cecilia Russo Marketing Entrepreneurship Grants welcomed applications from small businesses operating within the state of Georgia. Applicants were asked to submit a written pitch of no more than 1,000 words explaining their business and how it would benefit from a $5,000 grant and continue to propel the economic impact in our state. Not only did the selection process consider various aspects of the applicant’s business plans, but also the need for financial support and the impact the grant would have on the growth of their business. Russo Turner aims to serve as a mentor for not only the three winners but also for the 15 finalists.

In 2008, Owner and President Cecilia Russo Turner left a stable and secure job to take on the publicity and event planning for Tour de Georgia, a U.S. professional road cycling stage race across Ga. The event took a couple of months and she was paid $5,000 for the successful completion of the project. Russo Turner went on to build a successful company over the following 15 years. With a wealth of experience in strategic communications, marketing, fundraising, and public relations, she has successfully guided executives in both large and small private enterprises as well as nonprofit sectors. Having worked and collaborated with countless businesses and philanthropic organizations in the southeast regional areas, she brings a unique expertise to the table.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, known for his leadership as a champion of small business, congratulated Russo Turner on the announcement of the grants. Governor Kemp established the Georgians First Commission to review state regulations, policies and procedures to streamline government, remove inefficiencies and secure Georgia’s place as the top state for small business in the country.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Georgia’s economy, supporting both individuals and employees while providing vital services and character to communities across our state,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “As the No. 1 state for business, Georgia has the tools for entrepreneurs to succeed.”

Russo Turner said, “Through diligent efforts, fervent prayers and the incredible support of our clients and the thriving Savannah community, I have witnessed the remarkable growth of my business far beyond my most ambitious expectations. It brings me great joy to mark this milestone by extending a helping hand to a business facing the same circumstances I once navigated during my inception, allowing the cycle of support and success to perpetuate.”

The Cecilia Russo Marketing 15th Anniversary Entrepreneurship Grants program is just one of the ways that Cecilia Russo Marketing is committed to supporting small businesses.

For more information about Cecilia Russo Marketing and its services, please visit www.crussomarketing.com.

Based in Savannah, Ga., Cecilia Russo Marketing is an award-winning boutique agency delivering trusted and successful results since its founding in 2008. Owner and President Cecilia Russo Turner is a native of Savannah and uniquely understands the local and regional trends of brand-building strategies and reputation management while leveraging traditional and digital platforms to engage with key publics and consistently exceed client expectations. For more information, visit www.crussomarketing.com.

Cynthia Cradduck