Lively conversation filled the foyer at TownPlace Suites by Marriott in Solon last week, where more than 50 women in business gathered for networking, friendship and a sharing of knowledge.

The afternoon marked the January event of Solon Women in Business, or SWIB, a program of the Solon Chamber of Commerce that took root about 15 years ago.

“The original and current purpose of SWIB remains essentially the same,” Solon Chamber President and CEO Thomas Bennett said. “Solon Women in Business empowers professionals and entrepreneurs to work together to support local businesses and community.”

Open to all women whose companies or organizations are members of the Solon Chamber, SWIB has anywhere from 10 to 50 women taking part in regular events. The group seeks to empower women with information, opportunities for personal and professional growth and the ability to share best practices. Of the chamber’s approximately 500 members, more than half are women.

For SWIB co-chair Linda Myers, president of her own State Farm Agency in Solon, benefits of her participation in the group are plentiful.

“As a member, the greatest benefit I see is the opportunity to connect with like-minded professional women in the area,” she said. “I appreciate the ability to be part of a forum where we can exchange and discuss similar experiences and have access to resources relevant to my goals and objective.”

She said there are a variety of issues facing women in business. Some include not having a female role model or mentor, not being perceived as “tough enough” for the job or not being taken seriously because of gender, among others.

“The list is endless,” Ms. Myers, of Reminderville, said.

SWIB helps meet those challenges and strengthen female relationships, she continued.

“SWIB is a cool, innovative and easygoing and professional group of women where professionals and entrepreneurs can interact and obtain resources and ideas on how to address their challenges,” she said.

There are women who are veterans of business who can share their knowledge and knowhow with those with less experience, she continued, and conversely, there are young up and comers who have new and fresh perspectives of how to accomplish goals and targets.”

Through SWIB, the group tries to create an atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to get involved, Ms. Myers added. “Feedback and the sharing of ideas are welcomed, and networking and getting to know one another is encouraged.

“The relationships that can and will be built are priceless,” she said.

Liz Kentzner attended a SWIB event for the first time at TownPlace. An employee with HomeInstead Health Care, she said the Solon community is close-knit and small, “and at the end of the day, we want to help one another.

“That’s what we do,” she said. “Women helping women.”

Solon resident Judy Caine, who works in finance, said the networking and opportunities to be with other women in business are among the greatest benefits of her involvement.

“This is just phenomenal,” she said of getting together with like-minded women.

In 2020, the theme of SWIB is “Take Courage – What does that mean to you personally and professionally.” Along with Ms. Myers, SWIB is chaired by Tammy Dublin of Core Potential Coaching and Laura Malone of Key Bank.

Solon resident Deborah Axelrod, who was at the SWIB event as a representative of Club Pilates in Solon, said she is fairly new to the group but enjoyed having so many women together and saw it as a way to create partnering opportunities.

“I like to help people,” Ms. Myers said. “This gives you the opportunity to meet women you can learn from.”

SWIB meets the second Tuesday of the month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other month with the next meeting in May.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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