FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Sharon Sutila founded a company to provide thorough background checks on people applying for high-security positions. The company is called Cleves Research.

“We service industries like aviation, financial banking, the IT industry,” Sutila said.

Sutila is a finalist in a contest sponsored by the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, or BAC. The center is run mostly on grant money and teaches small business owners to focus their efforts.

“In reality, for a business, it proves to them the best way to run a business is to have a plan,” said Cheryl Jones, Economic Development Specialist for the center.

The ultimate goal of the BAC is to make business planning training available to as many people as they can. It is offering $40,000 to the small businesses in the contest with the best business plan. Judges whittled the contestants down to five finalists without knowing who had submitted the plans. But when they found out who the business owners are, they were pleasantly surprised.

“All of them are women,” Jones said. “Two whites, two African-Americans and one Hispanic couple. It just worked out like that. We were really pleased!”

Sutila says she never thought about her gender. Her only concern was receiving the training to compete.

“I’ve had so much input and a lot of encouragement for what I’ve been doing and its awesome,” Sutila said.

“It just says that everybody out there is in the game,” Jones said. “Everybody wants a business, starts a business and has a business going. They all have that same vision.”

Sutila and the other finalists will have to submit their plans to judges in the contest finals later in August. Until then, Sutila is busy expanding her business overseas into India.

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