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The White House Business Council invited small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to a forum we hosted with Business Forward earlier this month. While they were here, we spoke to some of the people we met about the secrets of their success, and found out how the American Jobs Act will enable them to grow even more quickly in 2012.
When a beloved bakery shut its doors, Lynn St. Laurent saw an opportunity where most of her neighbors just saw a loss. St. Laurent had overcome medical and financial troubles in her past and, despite having had no experience operating a restaurant or in food service at all, her entrepreneurial spirit spurred the idea of opening a place of her own. Amélie’s French Bakery opened its doors in NoDa, the historical art district in Charlotte, North Carolina in May, 2008 and despite the ongoing economic crisis, has become a community go-to spot for a hot cup of coffee, a sweet treat, and a comfortable place to relax, do work, and socialize, 24 hours a day.
Amélie’s now has over 70 employees and a second location. St. Laurent is proud that her hiring philosophy has not only helped grow her business but changed people’s lives. “We employ many people who have employment barriers, including women who are getting ready to come out of prison, people coming out of rehab programs, and those who are just trying to lift themselves up. Our policies in the work place are built around understanding the amazing difference it can make when people with challenges are given a place where they are accepted…and encouraged to grow.”
The American Jobs Act will enable St. Laurent to more quickly grow her business and her ability to offer opportunities to those in need. "I know first hand the hopeless feeling of long-term unemployment. The programs the President has proposed, including "Bridge to Employment" will support us as we look to expand both our business and our commitment to being a positive, powerful force in the communities we serve."