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Each story is only as good as the author who tells it, and this month especially, the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce is recognizing women’s stories in advocacy and business. 

Did you know, according to statistics highlighted by author Sarah Hollenbeck in, women-owned businesses account for 42% of all U.S. businesses, and are responsible for employing 9.4 million workers? Numerically speaking, women have shaped the next generation of the workforce, and are leading the way to increased collaboration and communication. We do it all!

March is Women’s History Month, and we also celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8. Manistee County has many powerful women in our business community, and they all deserve recognition. Together, women work to build and support each other — and together, we rise and advance our communities.

The National Women’s History Alliance theme for Women’s History Month in 2023 is “Celebrating women who tell our stories.” When we look at the stories of the great women who shaped our world today, such as Catherine the Great (1729-1796), Mother Teresa (1910-1997), Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), Rosa Parks (1913-2005) and Michelle Obama (1964-current) we see stories of sacrifice, perseverance and bravery. 

The formula for any successful woman in any field has, and always will remain the same.

Best defined in the words of former United States Navy rear admiral, Marsha Evans, “You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true, enduring characteristic of successful people.”

Marsha Evans went on to serve as the executive director of the Girl Scouts of the USA (1998-2002), and finally president and CEO of the American Red Cross (2002-2005). 

In Manistee County, we have various certified women-owned, or women-led businesses in our backyard. These didn’t materialize overnight. They began as a dream. Which inspired a woman to build a thriving business, filling a need in our community. 

Hollenbeck states in her summary of statistics that the “top three motivations for women starting their own businesses are pursuing their passion, gaining financial independence and increasing their flexibility.” 

There are countless untold stories of women entrepreneurs, owners and leaders in the business community. Whether it’s a formerly career-driven wife or daughter, or a dedicated mother, sister, niece, aunt or friend from high school, there are women who have and still do put in the hard work, time and effort to reach their goals every day. Running a business or organization isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows.

We watch on TV or in movies the powerful “femme fatal” stereotype, with the world at her feet, you know the one. She’s got “problems” but everything works out in Hollywood. We are not in Hollywood anymore. 

The real powerful women are the ones who break from the homeostatic pattern that has provided them with “comfortable” living, for who knows how many years. The real powerful women take a risk on a dream, to make their life and their families’ lives better. In the words of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, “Change is the only constant in life.” These women have the power to change, embrace it, work hard and thrive. 

But thriving in Manistee County isn’t all about making bank. We are a community, with many families growing up here from generation to generation. Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, said it best: “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

If you are reading this, and know a woman in our community who demonstrated the drive to achieve their dreams by leading, opening or owning a business — or acting as an advocate for our community — please recognize them.

If you are reading this, and you are a woman who has stepped out of her comfort zone, followed a passion or filled a community need with a business venture, or is currently leading a business or organization, thank you. Please, share your story on social media, or in a letter to the editor, because your journey is unique and could easily inspire others. 

In the words of Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”

Our stories in Manistee County (or ripples) are untold … for now … but we can tell them. Women support women, and together, we rise. 

Cassidy Jessup is the marketing and communications specialist for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit 501C(6) organization. Jessup can be reached at 231-723-2575 or