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Celebrating NECC Entrepreneurs for National Women’s Small Business Month

Submitted by on October 18, 2023 – 5:51 pm

Each October, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) honors the progress women have made with National Women’s Small Business Month. According to the SBA, in 1972, there were just over 400,000 women-owned businesses in the United States. Until 1988, women needed a male relative to co-sign if they wanted to apply for a business loan. But that same year, the Women’s Business Ownership Act passed, which allowed the SBA to provide financial assistance to organizations geared toward women-owned small businesses. Today, there are over 13 million women-owned businesses, accounting for 42% of all business ownership in the U.S. and generating $1.9 trillion worth of revenue.

With a robust business transfer program and an environment that fosters creativity, it’s no surprise that many NECC students and alumni are among those successful women-identifying business owners. Several have recently been featured in the NECC Newsroom and local media:

Rosa stands inside her food stall with her arms open wide

Rosita’s Cocina at the Newburyport Farmer’s Market

Current Business Transfer student Rosa Garza of Newburyport is the owner and operator of the popular food stand Rosita’s Cocina. You can often find her at farmer’s markets and special events in the Merrimack Valley and the Seacoast region, serving up her signature empanadas and other authentic Mexican dishes. Read more here!

Renee Terry



Renee Terry ’13 of Amesbury became a household name with a win on the Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge, season 5. Her bakery, Sweet Cheeks, specializes in custom-designed cookies and often books orders months in advance. Luckily, her creations are now easier to get with the opening of a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Amesbury. Terry has partnered with the owner of another previously home-based business, For the Party Co. to open the spot called- appropriately- Sweet Cheeks and For the Party Co. Read more about Terry’s time at NECC here and about her new venture here.

Liseth Valez wearing hard hard and reflective vest stands with sky scrapers in the background

Liseth Velez ’15 on site of one of her projects in Roxbury, MA


Liseth Velez ’15 is a US Veteran of the Air National Guard to the founder of the construction firm LJV. She credits her time at NECC as helping her find the balance and concentration she needed to continue her educational journey, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Webster University. She began investing in real estate early in her career and launched her Everett-based construction firm, LJV Development, in 2018. Find her recent feature in our alumni magazine, alumnecc, here.

Are you a NECC alumna and a small business owner? Please let us know! Email to share your story!