Local Omaha Business “Still Poppin” After Being Awarded $10,000

September 2019

What does popcorn, a clothing line, biscotti and Southern food have in comma? They were all winning business ideas at The Community CONNECT, Investing in Entrepreneurship, a start-up pitch competition that awarded a total of $15,000 to the top winning businesses.

Congratulations to first-place winner, Orlanda Whitfield, owner of Still Poppin, who was awarded $10,000. Second place winner Gary Ballard, owner of Haberdash O.N.E., received $3,000. Two entrepreneurs tied for third, Owners Diamond Simms of Emery’s Café and Sophia Jordan of Black Bottom Biscotti. Each will split a $2,000 cash award.

On September 22, 2019, Graduates of the Catholic Charities Microbusiness and Asset Development Program presented their business models in front of a live audience and received expert feedback from a panel of esteemed judges comprised of area entrepreneurs and community business leaders. 

The Community CONNECT is a collaboration of Catholic Charities, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, Mutual of Omaha and Mutual of Omaha Bank for the purpose of supporting entrepreneurs and economic growth in the Omaha community.

“This event allowed us to shine a light on local entrepreneurs giving them a platform to promote their businesses,” said Gregg Wilson, Executive Director of Catholic Charities. The presentations were amazing, the judges asked thought-provoking questions, and the four winning recipients were very deserving of recognition!”

The following community leaders served as judges for the competition: Becky App, Co-founder – eCreamery (Shark Tank participant - 2012); Steve Esposito, Managing Director of Retail Banking - Mutual of Omaha Bank; Faye Hobley - Entrepreneur; Reginald McGaugh, Founder & CEO - Cornhusker Capital, LLC; Diva R. Mejias, Owner & President - DM Financial Services, Inc.; and, Karnetta Rushing, VP Retail Branch Banking - First National Bank of Omaha.

About Catholic Charities:
Catholic Charities ministers to the greatest and most fundamental needs of our community, serving over 80,000 people every year in 23 counties in Nebraska. Through our Microbusiness and Asset Development Program, Catholic Charities helps hundreds of budding entrepreneurs build, launch, and grow their dream businesses. This program offers formal training, technical assistance, micro loans, financial education, and counseling – key ingredients that help low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency and financial freedom. THAT’S THE POWER OF COMMUNITY!  For more information on Catholic Charities, visit

About Omaha Economic Development Corporation: Founded in 1977, the Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) began as a vision in the hearts of community residents and activists to address blight and poverty in the City of Omaha. Our focus addresses the immediate physical evidence of community deterioration and the socio-economic challenges of poverty. Our specific economic strategies and community revitalization projects provide diversified, environmentally responsible housing options; affordable commercial/retail spaces; jobs; job skill and small business development training; and business ownership opportunities. Our success stems from the commitment of the community we serve and strong local and national partnerships that fortify our mission to provide opportunities to live with dignity and fulfillment; build assets and a healthy economy through full time employment; and jointly support those unique cultural activities that reflect our residents. For more details about our work, visit our website (

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