Wilton business owner Carline Dean was recently recognized by the Women’s Business Development Council at its 20th Anniversary Luncheon Gala held at the Greenwich Hyatt Regency.

The Women’s Business Development Council was founded in 1997 to provide the training, education and borrowing power necessary to empower women to successfully launch and grow their own businesses. In honor of its 20th anniversary, the Council presented its “20 for 20 Award” to 20 successful women entrepreneurs and women business owners, including Dean, who have prospered from the not-for-profit’s services.

Dean owns Lace Affaire in Wilton, a specialty boutique where women can get properly fitted for bras and shop for other exclusive items such as lingerie, sleepwear, and swimwear. She also owns Illumination Salon, a unique destination for the latest trends in hairstyling and makeup.

Long-recognized as the signature annual women’s business gathering in Connecticut, the gala brought together nearly 700 supporters of women-owned businesses including Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes.

McMahon remarked that the women-owned businesses served by the Women’s Business Development Council are “not only serving our communities with products and services, they are providing paychecks to families and making our cities and towns vibrant places to live.”

She explained that small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector with more than half of the U.S. workforce either employed by a small business or owning a small business. “Women in particular are driving a lot of that growth,” she said. “Research shows that women-owned small businesses are the fastest growing sector of our economy.”

Women’s Business Development Council CEO Fran Pastore told the crowd, “The Women’s Business Development Council’s work on behalf of women entrepreneurs has never been more relevant than it is today. Make no mistake about it; this is not a female issue. This is a socioeconomic imperative. When a woman can borrow money for income-generating activities like starting their own business or growing their own business, it has a ripple effect around our communities.”

Headquartered in Stamford with a satellite office in Derby, the 501 (c)(3) non-profit has served nearly 19,000 clients, assisted in the creation of nearly 1,800 businesses and supported the sustainability and expansion of 3,800 established businesses and created more than 4,900 jobs.