Business Expo honors three achievers


Kim Connell head shot 2

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The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce honored three women at a luncheon Thursday at the Entrepreneurial and Business Women’s Expo.

The Expo provides a forum in which women with the entrepreneurial spirit and all women at all levels of business can connect with resources, business opportunities and educational workshops that inspire them to achieve both business and professional goals, according to the Chamber.

This year, the Chamber presented the following three awards:

Mannis-Gardner, center. County Chamber photo

Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year

This year the Chamber honored Deborah Mannis-Gardner, President of DMG Clearances, Inc.

With 25 years in the music industry, Deborah Mannis-Gardner has cornered the market in music clearances. After working for Diamond Time and RCA Records, and under the suggestion of her clients who missed her availability, Deborah established her own music clearance company, DMG Clearances, Inc.

For the past 20 years, Deborah has gained recognition not only in the music industry, but also in video games, featured films, DVDs, and television industries as well.

Mannis-Gardner works with top labels such as Atlantic Records, Sony Music, Capitol Records, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Bad Boy Records, Island Def Jam Recordings, Cash Money Records and Warner Bros. Records, clearing samples for such renown artists as Kendrick Lemar, J Cole, John Legend, Black Eyed Peas, Drake, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Rihanna, The Notorious B.I.G., U2, Kid Rock, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Yela Wolf, Beyonce, Led Zeppelin, De La Soul and DK Khaled and others.

Deborah’s featured film music clearances include Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator, Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile, In Her Shoes and Lucky You, The Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou and Richard Linklater’s School Of Rock.

DMG is the clearance agent for RockStar Games, Inc. in which she has cleared the music used in video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, The Warriors, Midnight Club and 3 Dub.

Deborah recently secured the music for the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

Deborah is a single mom. Her 15-year old son, Curtis Gardner, is in his sophomore year at Sanford School. In her spare time, Deborah volunteers for theEugene Young for Mayor Campaign.

Business Woman of the Year

Connell, center. New Castle County Chamber photo.

Several years ago the Business Woman of the Year Award was introduced at the Women’s Expo to recognize a woman for her accomplishments and contributions to Delaware businesses and the lives of other business women. This year the Chamber is recognizing Kimberly Connell. Kimberly started First State Elevator, Inc. in August 2011 and she has continued to grow her business.

Connell gained knowledge in overseeing residential and commercial job sites with Pulte and Anderson Homes. There she became one of only two women superintendents in Delaware.

In 2008 Kim started working for an elevator company and quickly became the controller for the company. While there she observed processes that could be improved she was inspired to start her own company.

Connell’s focus on customer service and the needs of her customers is one of the primary reasons for her success. She finds solving their problems and helping them through a challenge very rewarding.

She loves supporting and connecting other business owners in their pursuit of success. She is also venturing into renovating and flipping houses. Connell is a single mother of two children ages 18 and 16.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Hopkins Grieco, center.

Catherine Hopkins Grieco is the retired third generation owner of Hopkins & Sons, Inc. During her 35 years, Catherine worked in all positions at Hopkins & Sons and upon her father’s retirement became president.

Under Grieco’s leadership, she was able to purchase a 65,000-square foot office/warehouse building in New Castle. She grew the business to $5 million in sales, expanded the service fleet and serviced larger corporate contracts.

Along the way she received numerous awards including Atlas Moving Agent of the Year, Best Family Owned Business, Best Place to Work and she was also recognized as the Delaware Entrepreneur of the Year.


The keynote speaker at the luncheon portion of this year’s Expo was Liz Scott, co-executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and mother of AlexScott,

Scott told the sad and inspiring story of her late daughter Alex Scott whose idea of raising money to fight childhood cancer through lemonade stands, has raised $130 million in fighting childhood cancer.

The research covers many types of cancers at the insistence of Alex. Liz Scott said Alex made it clear that all children suffering from cancer should benefit from funds raised from the program.

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