Charter One Launch100 Leadership Circle Recognized

Minority Entrepreneurs' Successes Inspirational for Others in NE Ohio

May 22, 2012, 14:30 ET from JumpStart Inc.

CLEVELAND, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, nine Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial companies were recognized as inaugural members of the Charter One Launch100 Leadership Circle in a ceremony at the offices of nonprofit venture development organization, JumpStart. The Circle recognizes diverse entrepreneurs committed to turning their business ideas into some of the region's most impactful minority-owned or –led companies.  Ken Marblestone, President, Charter One and RBS Citizens, announced the following 2012 Charter One Launch100 Leadership Circle honorees:   

  • Algae Producers of America, Inc. (Rick Johnson, Founder)
  • CFRC Water & Energy Solutions (Sean Arnold, CEO; Chuck Williams, Founder),
  • MET Innovations (Claude Kennard, CEO + Founder),
  • OPTIMA Lender Services (Monique Winston, CEO),
  • Queen Ann Inc.  (Sabrina & Al "Bubba" Baker, Co-CEOs), 
  • RKN Corporation (Shanina & Robert Knighton III, Co-Founders),
  • Simply Southern Sides (Claude Booker, Founder and President),
  • Wellness Integrated Network (Bertrand Gray, CEO; Andrea Trgovcich, Chief Innovation Officer/Founder)
  • Zuga Medical (Xiaoyang Huang co-Founder; Dr. Chan Wang, Co-Founder + CEO)

"The entrepreneurs in the Circle took initiative and started businesses with the potential to generate significant jobs and wealth for the community," explains Darrin Redus, JumpStart's Chief Economic Inclusion Officer.

Minority entrepreneurship increased 74% between 1996 and 2010 with minorities accounting for 40% of entrepreneurs. The fact that high growth minority firms employ minority workers at twice the rate of non-minority workers indicates that diverse, young, growing companies can create job opportunities for their communities.   "Encouraging minority and inner city entrepreneurs to build larger scale firms holds great promise for the community and nation," says Marblestone. Charter One supports economic and community development strategies that promote economic self-sufficiency and catalyze the development of economically-distressed areas. "We're proud to recognize the risks these leaders are taking and the successes they have achieved in order to grow minority business networks in the community while inspiring and educating others."

"Inclusively accelerating and supporting the most promising businesses of tomorrow will truly ensure our region's economic competitiveness," adds Redus. 

CHARTER ONE Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 341 branches and 534 ATMs. It has 134 branches and 165 ATMs in Ohio. Charter One's website is  

RBS CITIZENS, N.A. RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,460 branches, approximately 3,800 ATMs and approximately 19,200 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG's website is    

JUMPSTART INC   JumpStart Inc. accelerates the successes of diverse entrepreneurs, their companies, and the ecosystems supporting them. JumpStart has provided intensive business assistance to more than 400 entrepreneurial clients and invested in 63 early stage Northeast Ohio tech-based companies. For more information, visit and follow @JumpStartInc on Twitter.




SOURCE JumpStart Inc.