The Conversation
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Hedy Ratner knows what it takes for a woman-owned business to take off — she founded the nonprofit Women’s Business Development Center in 1986 with Carol Dougal with the intention of fostering the kind of environment in which female entrepreneurs … Continue reading

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In 2001, Shawn Riegsecker, a 29-year-old fresh off a career in digital media, wrote a manifesto about he thought how a company ought to be run. Today, that manifesto provides the foundation for Centro, a digital advertising software provider with … Continue reading

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Summarizing the accomplishments of Rick Bayless is a tall order. The chef-cum-TV host has nine restaurants, six James Beard awards and one Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration that Mexico awards to foreigners whose work has benefited the … Continue reading

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Stephen Baird represents the latest of five generations who’ve run the country’s oldest real estate brokerage, Baird & Warner. The 156-year-old outfit has more than 1,500 employees in 22 Chicagoland offices. Sarah Ware founded the Carter Ware Group, which specializes … Continue reading

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Twenty years ago, Arlington Heights native Tony Magee founded Lagunitas Brewing in Lagunitas, Calif. This summer, Magee comes home in a big way, as his company will open a 300,000-square-foot brewery with a 1.7 million barrel capacity in Chicago’s Douglas … Continue reading

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Michelle Blakely, a former professional dancer, founded personal training company Blakely FIT 10 years ago. Last year, she was voted the city’s best personal trainer by the Chicago Reader. Blakely specializes in strength training for women. Rita Polevoy started RediSetFit … Continue reading

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Charlie Besser started Intersport, a sports marketing firm, in 1985. Two years later, he nailed down the original trademark for “March Madness.” That turned out to be a good bet. In 2011, the NCAA paid Intersport $17.2 million for sole … Continue reading

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More than 25 years ago, Catherine Edelman began selling photographs from a small, second-story gallery in River North. Now the president of the Chicago Art Dealers Association, Edelman has made a name for herself showing controversial works from living artists. … Continue reading

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Almost 20 years ago, a student named Guillermo Castellanos saw Maria Smithburg give a lecture on landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They’ve been friends ever since. Smithburg, who has owned her landscape architecture company, Artemisia, since … Continue reading

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Howard Ecker has run Howard Ecker + Company, an international commercial tenant representation and brokerage firm, for 40 years. His firm does a lot with a little. A team of fewer than 30 employees — including his daughters, Valentine and … Continue reading