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NBC Universal And American Express Announce Small Business Finalists Competing For $100,000 In Grant And Marketing Support In "Shine A Light" Program


Cast Your Vote Online Now and Help Top Finalist Advance to Next Level of Success

NEW YORK -- NBC Universal and American Express today announced Beacon Paint & Hardware (New York, N.Y.), HAPPYBABY (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Sacred Wind Communications, Inc. (Albuquerque, N.M.) as the three small business finalists in the “Shine A Light” program. The three finalists each receive $10,000 and will now rally support to potentially win $100,000 in grant and marketing support. Beginning today through October 16th, NBCU and American Express invite the public to vote online at for the small business finalist that most inspires them.

The three finalists announced today were chosen from more than 4,000 small businesses nominated from across the country for the program, which aims to showcase inspirational small businesses and the role they play in driving the economy. The program invited the public to nominate small business stories based on innovation, community spirit and customer service. The three finalists were ultimately selected with the help of show host and entrepreneur Ellen DeGeneres, fashion designer and entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg, and MSNBC’s small business expert and host JJ Ramberg.

“These dynamic and diverse small business owners have found innovative ways to run their businesses and touch the lives of their customers and communities both near and far,” said Nancy Smith, Vice President, Global Media, Content and Community, American Express. “These business owners really are the heart and soul of our economic recovery; your one vote can help determine the winner and take their business and mission to a new level of success.”

“Shine a Light” Three Small Business Finalists:
The three small business finalists selected will each receive a $10,000 grant and continue on for an opportunity to win $50,000 in grant money and $50,000 in marketing support from American Express.

Below is information about each small business finalist, as described in the original nomination*:

* “A Neighborhood Beacon” -- Beacon Paint & Hardware based in New York, N.Y is a neighborhood hardware store that has been on the same block for more than 100 years. They have “become a household name to the entire school community, donating vast amounts of paint, lighting and materials. Beacon also sponsors a walkathon for the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society and a community cleanup day to paint over any graffiti on mailboxes or lampposts. It is our neighborhood, we live here, and we support the neighborhood as much as they support us.”
* “Navajo Tribe Connection to Outside World” -- Sacred Wind Communications, Inc. (SWC) based in Albuquerque, N.M. is a “telecommunications company with a non-profit educational arm of the corporation, which serves the Navajo people in New Mexico. They are building a state of the art telecommunications network to reach current customers and over 6,000 homes without access to telephone service of any kind. SWC has allowed for these people to have a way to connect to the rest of the world, as well as employment in an area of extremely high unemployment.”
* “Socially Responsible Organic Baby Foods” -- HAPPYBABY based in Brooklyn, N.Y. with distribution across the country “pioneered a new movement in baby food with a line of sustainable organic home-style meals as an alternative to the processed jarred foods that had not been improved since the 1930’s. The business is the brainchild of a social entrepreneur who wanted to provide our children with the best start to instill eating habits for a healthy happy life, and simultaneously provide basic nutritional needs for less fortunate children simply trying to survive.”

The winning small business, voted on by the public, will be announced on October 19th. In addition to the $50,000 in grant money and $50,000 in marketing support from American Express, the winning small business will be featured on MSNBC’s small business show, “Your Business.” For more information and to vote, log on to

About American Express
American Express Company is a leading global payments and travel company founded in 1850. For more information, visit

About NBC Universal
NBC Universal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

* Project descriptions are in nominators’ own words, but some may have been modified for the purposes of this announcement.


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