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story.lead_photo.caption Chelsea McGill, owner of Grind Coffee Shop on Oak Street in California, is seen in this March 2018 photo. Photo by Michelle Brooks / California Democrat.

A California business leader has been recognized for her efforts, earning a prestigious award from the Missouri Women's Business Center (MoWBC).

Chelsea McGill, owner of Grind Coffee Shop, has been recognized as one of 2019's "Women Who Own It" by MoWBC, a program of Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA). McGill is one of eight winners selected for the honor, with one hailing from each of the eight counties served by the MoWBC and CMCA — Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage.

McGill said she is honored to have been selected for an award like this one. Upon hearing about her nomination, she said she was happy to simply be in the running.

"No matter what happened from then on, I was just grateful to be nominated," McGill said.

McGill would go on to submit a questionnaire to the MoWBC detailing her thoughts on what it means to be a leader and business owner, as well as her goals. A short time later in September, MoWBC Director Jessie Yankee called to inform McGill of her selection for Moniteau County — the process will culminate at the end of the month with the Women Who Own It Awards dinner on Oct. 24 at Cooper Ridge in Boonville.

"Ultimately, I'm just excited for being able to talk to people about (this)," McGill said. "I want other people to be future entrepreneurs, to have that recognition, too. There's so many other entrepreneurs here in town, and we're growing so much."

McGill said recognition like the Women Who Own It Award serves to affirm her standing as a business leader in the county. She said she's become passionate about mentoring future business owners, answering questions for the individuals who come to her asking about the trials and tribulations of owning and operating a successful business.

McGill said this is because she most wants California to become a destination for surrounding communities, which she said starts with a vibrant community of businesses. In this sense, her hope is to build that community up.

"I've been in business for over a year now, so I've seen a lot of the ups and downs and the hard things and the trials," McGill said. "There's a lot that I didn't expect that's happening so if I can be that transparent voice for somebody who's considering a business, then I feel like that can be a benefit to the community in some way."

McGill said her success today can be traced back to programs through the Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council — she originally started through a training program called LaunchU, and is a continued supporter of MRED's work, including having a hand in the newly-founded Central Missouri Business Leaders program that started last month.

Through programs like this, McGill said she hopes participants discover they aren't alone in the challenges and successes they experience.

"If there's somebody else out there that's been dreaming for a long time and maybe they just need that connection (these programs) are a good way to get connected," McGill said.

Yankee said this is the second year of the Women Who Own It Awards, and the MoWBC was founded just three years ago itself. In total, nearly 200 women were nominated for this year's award, and most were nominated by multiple individuals, making for a well-qualified field to select finalists from. A panel of judges selected from each of the MoWBC's eight counties scored and selected winners based on their submitted questionnaires.

Yankee said the MoWBC wanted a way to celebrate the women doing great work in each of their communities and across Mid-Missouri, and said she hopes the award continues to grow moving forward.

"We want (women) to know that the things they're doing for their communities are getting recognized," Yankee said.

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