CLEVELAND - A Cleveland-area company that makes comfortable clothing for hospital patients was one of only a dozen small businesses in the US awarded a hefty grant to help with expansion.
Chase and LivingSocial announced this week that RonWear Port-able Clothing in Beachwood will receive a $250,000 grant.
The company, founded by Deb Stanzak, was the only business to get the "Mission: Small Business" grant in the Midwest. About 70,000 small businesses entered to win the award, and the winners were selected by a panel of small business experts following an online vote to narrow down the list.
The companies entered were evaluated based on these factors:
- Feasible growth plan
- Overall passion for their business
- Potential to make a positive impact within the local community
RonWear clothing makes stylish and functional "treatmentwear" for people facing health challenges. The jogging suit-like outfits include zippered ports to allow easy access for nurses and doctors while a person is being treated in a medical facility.
Stanzak first designed the clothing for her brother, Ron, in 2004 to make his life easier while on dialysis.
"I just bought a ready-made fleece pullover and I slit the arm and I inserted a zipper in it and I came to my brother's room and I threw it at him and said ‘here, try this, see if it works,'" she told NewsChannel5 in 2010 .
Ron loved the clothing so much, he begged her to turn it into a business. Following the deaths of Ron, both her parents, both of her in-laws and her husband within a three-year period, Stanzak decided to chase her dreams of being a fashion designer, fulfill her brother's wish and use her creation to help others.
The grant program was done in cooperation with the US Chamber of Commerce. Businesses were only eligible if they had fewer than 100 employees and had been in business for at least two years.
"Day in and day out, small business owners across the country are leading the charge to grow the economy and create much needed jobs," said David Chavern, US Chamber executive vice president and chief operating officer. "In addition to the determination, hard work and innovation that these 12 small business owners have already demonstrated, we hope that these grants will give them the resources needed to continue to succeed."
In all, $3 million in grants was given out as a part of the program.