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The QC Empowerment Network is again wrapping up Black History Month by reaching out to help spotlight and advance area black-owned businesses.

The 3rd annual Black Business Expo & Summit will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 24, at the Davenport RiverCenter. This year, the summit and expo are open to the public and free of charge.

Dr. Randal Pinkett, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners will be the summit's keynote speaker. He will bring his experience in business and technology to the Quad-City audience.

An entrepreneur, speaker, author and scholar, Pinkett founded the Newark, New Jersey-based BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar research, consulting, training, technology and analytics firm. His books include: "Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur's Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business" and "Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness."

The Black Business Expo is designed to highlight black-owned local businesses as well as the rich diversity in the small business community. The summit, which is from 1-4 p.m., will include break-out sessions for current and future entrepreneurs.

Guests also will find vendors, local small business resources and a youth entrepreneurship pitch competition similar to the popular TV show "Shark Tank."

Keller Williams moves to

new Bettendorf home

Keller Williams Realty, whose franchises include Keller Williams Greater Quad-Cities, has landed the top spot in the 8th annual Happiest Companies to Work for in America.

The list is published by Forbes Magazine and CareerBliss. The career website surveyed tens of thousands of U.S. employees, asking them to rate their employers on criteria such as workplace environment, growth opportunities, company, management and more.

The Austin, Texas-based Keller Williams has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas. It claims to be the largest real estate franchise in North America by agent count, sales volume and closed units.

Here at home, Keller Williams Greater Quad-Cities had other celebrating to do last week with the grand opening of its new location at 3580 Utica Ridge Road, Bettendorf. The firm, owned and operated by Donna Cecchini, had been at One River Place on Davenport's River Drive. The office's other investors include Deana McCarthy, Barb Johnson, Deb Haussmann and Donna Arnold.

Leaders said the firm needed a productivity-focused environment to accommodate the growth it has had since entering the market seven years ago. It now employs 84 agents — a 38 percent increase over the previous year.

Village Home Stores

honored by Houzz

Village Home Stores in Geneseo have won Best of Design and Best in Customers Service on Houzz, the platform for home remodeling and design.

The 34-year-old, family-owned kitchen and bath showroom was chosen by more than 40 million unique users to Houzz. This marks the fourth year Village Home has won the customer service category and its first year for the design category.

Awards are based on several factors including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2017. Houzz is the world's largest residential design database.

"The Houzz platform has been a wonderful tool for our customers to work with us during the research phase of a project," said Elizabeth Round, Village Home's marketing manager. "We also love hosting our main portfolio of work on Houzz."

Follow Village Homes Stores at houzz.com/pro/villagehomestores.

Royal Neighbors grant

helps Ohio urban farmer

Royal Neighbors Foundation is lending a hand to help a Cincinnati, Ohio, woman grow her urban farm and community outreach.

Nadia Ruffin has received the Know Your Worth Grant of $10,000 from the foundation, the philanthropic arm of Rock Island-based Royal Neighbors of America.

Ruffin, the owner of Quiwi Produce, launched her business to combat food deserts in the Cincinnati area. In addition to helping feed her community with food raised using hydroponics, she offers classes and workshops on urban farming, chicken raising, beekeeping and food safety.

The Know Your Worth Program empowers women to continue to build on their financial value as they expand an existing small business or launch a small start-up. For more information, call 800-537-1396 or visit www.royalneighborsfoundation.org to apply.

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com.

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