CARY — Blush Cowork in Cary is the latest winner of the “Empowering the Carolinas” contest, a partnership between Lenovo and the Carolina Panthers to provide Carolina businesses with support. Alison Rogers, Blush founder and owner was at the Panthers pre-season game last Friday where she received the award at halftime.

“I was in absolute shock when they called my name and it didn’t register at first,” Rogers said. “Having learned about the other businesses and meeting their owners, I definitely didn’t think I would win! I don’t remember a thing after they said ‘Blush Cowork’ and pulled the jersey out.”

Launched in 2021, the Empowering the Carolinas contest is part of Lenovo’s Evolve Small program providing aid and mentorship as well as hardware and software tools. Empowering the Carolinas awards $5,000 worth of technology solution upgrades from Lenovo and Microsoft to 10 small businesses each year. The grand prize winner also receives a $100,000 advertising package with the Panthers during the NFL season. Last year more than 650 businesses were nominated. Hip Hop Smoothies of Charlotte was the winner, and the nominees included Raleigh’s Black Dollar Corp., which helps Black entrepreneurs by offering co-working and retail space, training programs, and networking events. 321 Coffee is also partnering with the Evolve Small program.

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Details about how Blush will be partnering with the Panther are still being worked out, but Rogers, a former marketing and production manager, is thrilled to see what evolves.

“Since Blush is still so new, this win will be a game-changer for us. Having the Lenovo equipment will mean I don’t have to wait on a laptop loaner program that I had been planning for, and I hope the exposure from the advertising package means I can find the support for more locations.”