Business, Free News Articles, Regional Events

Minority Business Accelerator Program Expands to Support Small Underrepresented Female Entrepreneurs in Arizona, Georgia and Florida

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- ThinkZILLA Consulting, announced its 15-week entrepreneur accelerator program for female minority entrepreneurs. The only firm that combines program management resources with extensive DE&I expertise, a network of thousands of minority-led business suppliers and full-service marketing capabilities, has expanded programming to combat poverty and support entrepreneurs in need of access. Quality business training and mentorship.

Earlier this year, ThinkZILLA expanded to Scottsdale at the Arizona State University SkySong Innovation Center, where it launched the first United Diversity Business Summit, convening business experts and CEOs to share innovative approaches to enhancing Arizona's economic growth outcomes.

The recent "State of Black Business" report highlighted racial gaps in Arizona, where Black workers are underrepresented in most industries yet overrepresented in the state's lowest earning brackets, and the business accelerator intends to reverse these trends.

"Education and entrepreneurship can support individuals and business owners in rising from poverty, creating sustainable enterprises and making a true mark on the Arizona business world and culture," said Dr. Trayham. "We are proud to lead the way in executing to seeing more business owners build and scale across the state."

ThinkZILLA's 15-Week Accelerator Program is in partnership with the Millionaire Mastermind Academy, a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to end poverty through entrepreneurship, has helped more than 7,000 women nationwide gain the education and training they need to succeed in business. Since its founding in 2017, the Millionaire Mastermind Academy has awarded $60,000 in scholarships and more than $30,000 in seed funding to help African American women entrepreneurs create successful and sustainable business enterprises.

"The Pioneer Accelerator Program couldn't have selected a better time to launch in Arizona," noted Cloves Campbell, Jr., owner and publisher of the Arizona Informant, which recently celebrated 50 years of recording Black history. "As the Black population has increased astronomically, so, too, has the number of Black businesses. The need for programs that can specifically assist our Black entrepreneurs is long overdue. Dr. Velma Trayham and her team are providing a service that will not only create more Black businesses in Arizona but will also stimulate the economy for all of Arizona!"

Companies that commit to diversity, equity and inclusion benefit broadly with financial growth, a more diverse and stable employee base, deeper diverse supply chain engagement, greater innovation and enhanced company reputation.

Applications for the Hybrid business accelerator will begin accepting applications Jan. 10, with a deadline of Feb 15. The program will kick off with orientation at ThinkZILLA's SkySong office on March 1.

Learn more:

The 15-week program will cover branding, doing business with local government and corporations, funding a business for growth, sales and marketing, and more. In addition, it will provide mentorship and networking to expand entrepreneurial knowledge, connections, and opportunities with the aim of helping business owners and entrepreneurs acquire the skills and support they need to scale and succeed in Arizona.

This program is made possible by public and private partnerships. Founding sponsors for the Accelerator program include American Landmark, M&T Bank and Blaylock Van, LLC.

About the Millionaire Mastermind Academy:

The Millionaire Mastermind Academy was designed to empower Black women to overcome the challenges of economic instability through entrepreneurship and small business. The Millionaire Mastermind Academy educates women and support the growth of their small businesses, engages entrepreneurship to combat the threat of poverty and gender-based income disparities, and enhance local community economies.

For more information, please visit

About ThinkZILLA:

With its mission to increase economic impact through cultural diversity, ThinkZILLA helps organizations create a positive economic impact. ThinkZILLA supports clients interested in addressing inequities and realizing growth opportunities through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programming, while impacting the local community.

To learn more about ThinkZILLA visit


"State of Black Business" report - (PDF)

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Advertising and Marketing, Business, Free News Articles

Thinkzilla Expands to Scottsdale, Arizona to Support Minority-Owned Businesses and Entrepreneurs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Thinkzilla, a culturally aware brand engagement firm based in Atlanta, today announces plans to open a new office in Scottsdale, Ariz. where it will hire 25 employees in the first six months. The female and minority-owned company selected Greater Phoenix because of the region's robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, diverse demographic and talent base, and leadership in advancing strategic diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. These efforts align with Thinkzilla's goals of providing equitable opportunity by expanding resources and knowledge for minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

"As we broaden our supplier diversity, and diversity and inclusion programs across the country, we look forward to helping more companies boost economic empowerment, find meaningful social engagement and manage social equity initiatives," said Thinkzilla CEO Dr. Velma Trayham. "We are incredibly proud of our track record of helping diverse businesses, communities and individuals, and look forward to connecting with the Scottsdale community to grow innovation and opportunities."

Thinkzilla will lease space at SkySong, the Arizona State University (ASU) Scottsdale Innovation Center. SkySong attracts cutting-edge and innovative companies while integrating the resources of ASU with the opportunities of the private sector. In April 2021, the City of Scottsdale unanimously adopted an anti-discrimination ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

"Dr. Trayham's company, Thinkzilla, as well as her entrepreneur accelerator program to support minority women as they scale their businesses, aligns with Scottsdale's mission to support and attract businesses that promote diversity, equity and inclusion," said Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega. "The City adopted economic development strategic plan and our anti-discrimination ordinance lets businesses know that Scottsdale is a destination for innovative and diverse companies like Thinkzilla, who we are thrilled to welcome to their new home at SkySong."

Natural synergies exist between Thinkzilla and ASU as seen through the university's leadership in DE&I and entrepreneurship and innovation. For the sixth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report named ASU the most innovative university in the nation. The J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute serves as connecting and collaborating resources for entrepreneurs at all stages across ASU and Greater Phoenix, which helped lead Thinkzilla to SkySong.

"The addition of Thinkzilla to the SkySong community presents new opportunities for important and meaningful collaborations throughout the Valley," said Grace O'Sullivan, Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at Arizona State University. "We're delighted to welcome Thinkzilla to Arizona."

The Arizona State of Black Business March 2021 Report notes, 'Black/African Americans have the highest percentage growth rate in the state. Black/African Americans face unique barriers to entrepreneurship and there is a need to increase support for Black-owned businesses including access to capital and direct financing pathways, startup resources, education, collaborative research, and assistance in identifying and navigating business opportunities.' Thinkzilla reinforces that inclusive, equitable businesses and communities drive prosperity, and by building, managing, and bringing awareness to those programs and initiatives further supports underserved and underrepresented communities.

"Thinkzilla is an exciting addition to Greater Phoenix's robust service and business sector that will help propel our innovation-centered economy forward and provide resources and knowledge to our growing minority-owned businesses population," said Chris Camacho, president & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. "Our diversity is our greatest strength. Creating opportunity and an equitable community is accomplished only through inclusive growth, and we look forward to working with Thinkzilla, the City of Scottsdale and ASU to support their continued success."

The Coppola-Cheney Group and Lee & Associates Arizona assisted with the real estate transaction. Plaza Companies is the master developer of SkySong, in partnership with University Realty, the City of Scottsdale and Holualoa Companies.

"We are pleased to welcome Thinkzilla to the SkySong family," said Sharon Harper, chairman and CEO of Plaza Companies. "This is the kind of forward-thinking, innovative organization that will grow and thrive in the SkySong environment, and we are gratified they chose SkySong for their presence in the Phoenix area."

About ThinkZILLA Consulting Group

ThinkZILLA specializes in multicultural branding, digital engagement, program development, experiential events and Public Relations. Making brands more relevant, ThinkZILLA builds meaningful connections between brands and consumers. For more information on ThinkZILLA or to schedule a consultation, please visit

About the City of Scottsdale

Scottsdale is one of the state's leading job centers, with a diverse economy built on medical research, high-tech innovation, tourism and corporate headquarters. Scottsdale is home to nearly 18,000 businesses supplying over 150,000 jobs. The high-tech innovation center SkySong, located just a few miles from Downtown, is designed to help companies grow through a unique partnership with nearby Arizona State University. For more information, visit

About the Greater Phoenix Economic Council

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), recently named the top economic development organization in the U.S. by the International Economic Development Council, works to attract and grow quality businesses and advocate for the competitiveness of Greater Phoenix. A data-driven regional economic development organization, GPEC works with 22 member communities, Maricopa County and more than 170 private investors to accomplish its mission and serve as a strategic partner to companies across the world as they expand or relocate to Greater Phoenix. Over the past 31 years GPEC has fueled the regional economy by helping more than 850 companies, creating 154,000 jobs and $20.4 billion in capital investment. Greater Phoenix is in a relentless pursuit of innovative and entrepreneurial-focused companies looking to thrive and scale in a vibrant, dynamic region. There is an undeniable spirit about Greater Phoenix; one rooted in strength, collaboration and resilience. Greater Phoenix is Greater Together. For more information about GPEC and how we can assist your businesses, visit

About Arizona State University

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

About SkySong

Plaza Companies is the developer of the project in partnership with Arizona State University Foundation, the City of Scottsdale and Holualoa Companies. Lee and Associates provides the brokerage services and Plaza del Rio Management Corporation provides the property management and construction services. Architects at SkySong include Pei Cobb Fried and Partners, DMJM Design, Butler Design Group and Kendle Design Collaborative.

About Plaza Companies

With offices in Peoria, Scottsdale and Tucson, Plaza Companies is a full-service real estate firm specializing in the management, leasing and development of medical office and commercial office properties, technology and bioscience facilities, mixed-use properties and senior housing communities. Since 1982, Plaza Companies has established a proud track record as a competitive, connected and conscientious real estate firm with partnerships throughout the industries it serves. For more information, visit

About University Realty

University Realty is a subsidiary of ASU Enterprise Partners, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to generating resources for the benefit of Arizona State University. Learn more:

About Holualoa Companies

Holualoa Companies is a real estate investment firm focused on the successful acquisition, repositioning, redevelopment and disposition of real estate assets. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, with offices in Phoenix, Santa Monica, Hawaii and Paris, its investments span the United States and Europe and include office, retail, industrial, multi-family, hotel and mixed-use investment properties. Holualoa is an experienced investor for its own account and on behalf of a select group of private investors.


Thinkzilla Consulting Group


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*Photo caption: Velma Trayham - CEO ThinkZILLA Consulting Group.

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Business, Free News Articles, Water and Wastes

North Carolina Business Experiences Growth Despite Challenging Times for Many Early-stage N.C. Companies

DURHAM, N.C. -- Since the pandemic struck last year, many businesses have struggled to stay afloat and others unfortunately, have had to close their doors. But Trash Can Cleaning USA, a HUB-certified North Carolina company, has not been one of them. It's managed to flourish in times of economic uncertainty, and that's mostly due to its service offering - a unique way to keep customers' trash and recycle cans clean.

"In fact, we have several investors encouraging us to get into an expanded market - moving from a regional North Carolina business to servicing the mid-Atlantic area with some larger partners," Darrell Harris, president and founder of Trash Can Cleaning USA, says.

For homeowners, keeping trash and recycle cans clean is a task that typically falls to the bottom of the "to-do" list, yet, it's one that's important to ensuring bacteria and even viruses like COVID-19 stay under control.

Trash Can Cleaning USA's sanitizing process kills upward to 99 percent of all common bacteria and viruses, eliminating the risk of E. coli, staphylococcus Listeria, Salmonella, flies, maggots, mosquitoes, bees and other insects and rodents living inside trash cans.

The company's state-of-the-art cleaning vehicle follows behind the homeowners' trash and recycle pick-up service truck on the specified service dates, and cleans the cans after they're emptied. When it's done, Trash Can Cleaning USA sends the customer a text message confirming the job has been completed.

"Our innovation of killing 99.9 percent of all bacteria within a trash and recycled bin in less than a minute is unparalleled and unmatched by any service-based company in North Carolina. Our advancement in this industry allows us to be environmentally conscious in neighborhoods and communities we impact on an everyday basis," Harris says.

Trash Can Cleaning USA also cleans and disinfects dumpsters and eco-minded individuals can rest easy because the company uses 100 percent green materials. After the cans or dumpsters are pressure washed in 200-degree hot water, they're disinfected with a biodegradable cleaner and then finished off with an air freshener of choice.

The company also works with city and town municipalities, homeowner associations, businesses, schools, apartment communities and more. It services the following North Carolina areas: Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Cary, Apex, Wake Forest and Greensboro, but plans to add more areas are in the works.

About Trash Can Cleaning USA

Founded in 2017, Trash Cleaning USA currently employs 12 people. Its mission is to achieve a one all-encompassing goal: to provide a streamlined and stress-free trash, dumpster and recycled bin cleaning service. Monthly and quarterly contracts are available and so is a one-time service. Trash Can Cleaning USA, is a minority owned business and is a certified HUB vendor with the N.C. Department of Administration.

For more information:

Watch a video about the service:




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Business, Free News Articles, Funding and Investment

Expert DOJO Invests $1.2 Million in Diverse Startups this June

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- On June 3, 2020, Expert DOJO has announced that its current accelerator cohort has invested in 12 companies. Of 12 investments made, 9 are minority-led businesses, and of the same 12 investments, 4 have female founders.

Find out more about them in this blog post -

Brian Mac Mahon, Expert DOJO's CEO said, "This is not just a question of fairness, it's a question of common sense. America is a diverse and creatively brilliant country and that is what makes it great."

Mac Mahon encourages all other Angels, Accelerators, Venture Capitalists and influencers in the startup world to make their scorecards public and welcome a new world of opportunity. "This is their chance to invest in a way that will make their children proud."

9 out of the 12 companies are waiting for other investors to follow in Expert Dojo's footsteps and help them raise their seed round of investment. "We really hope America will follow our movement," Mac Mahon said.

About Expert DOJO:

Expert DOJO is the fastest growing start-up community in Southern California based in Santa Monica. It helps early-stage startups through investment, foundation, showcasing, and influence.

Since 2014, It has worked with over 500 startups to accelerate their growth and success. Entrepreneurs love Expert DOJO and the power of our startup community. All entrepreneurs in its programs have agreed to support the whole community as they get stronger together.

Learn more at:

For additional information, please contact us at

Expert DOJO social media accounts:
LinkedIn -
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Facebook -
Twitter -
YouTube -
TikTok -

Brian's LinkedIn -

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*Photo caption: Brian Mac Mahon, Expert DOJO's CEO.

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Business, Education and Schools, Free News Articles

Part 1 of 4: COVID-19 and the Future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For over 15 years, Bridget Chisholm and her team at North Carolina-based black-owned economic development firm, Building Wealth & Communities (BWC) Consulting, LLC has had first-hand experience with providing high-level financial solutions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

As seasoned professionals, the firm has helped to build financial strategies to ensure infrastructure improvements on black college campuses and access to capital for major projects in underserved communities to the tune of over $153 million in transactions for HBCUs alone. But now, as the coronavirus crisis and stay-at-home orders have inflicted financial damage on institutions of higher learning like existing debt obligations amid declining revenues, HBCUs are left to tackle long-term economic issues that threaten indefinite school closures and ultimately the elimination of as many as half of existing HBCUs.

The state and fate of these institutions certainly warrants attention, and the question is not whether we should support HBCUs, but how best to support them during this time of economic crisis.

In this four-part series, BWC Consulting will lay out the HBCU value proposition and highlight key opportunities for building a 21st century educational playbook for higher educational institutions that ensures proactive measures are in place to create more agile and resilient learning environments. These solutions will help HBCUs meet the needs of the changing educational landscape by reimagining the unique experience provided at HBCUs and remodeling business strategies, endowment programs and virtual learning opportunities that enhance the overall campus appeal and learning experience.

By exploring non-traditional approaches to capital campaigns and endowment growth, such as an increased focus on securing engagement and support from the largely white-led philanthropy sector, and restructuring the federally-funded HBCU Capital Financing Program, BWC hopes to empower college and university administrators and policymakers to correct historical economic and social injustices that persist in our nation to ensure equity in education and non-discriminatory access to opportunity.

"HBCUs provide immense value-add to society and contribute more to the overall [black] community than most colleges and universities because they offer an opportunity for students to learn in a culturally-enriched environment and in today's world, provide a safe and nurturing space," said Bridget Chisholm, the firm's founder and managing partner.

She adds, "We know how difficult it is for HBCUs to compete with historically white institutions on a level playing field in terms of availability and access to funding and fundamental educational resources like technology. The COVID-19 pandemic presents HBCUs with an opportunity and the motivation to revamp, and where it makes sense, replace antiquated business models with new business strategies designed to meet the needs of students better in an emerging 21st century higher education system. HBCUs have worked tirelessly for over a hundred years to produce black professionals in every field and we anticipate seeing them overcome the current challenges they face."

Unlike predominantly white institutions (PWIs), HBCUs have historically struggled to address issues that have plagued these institutions of higher learning for decades. Disparities that exist between HBCUs and PWIs include inadequate state and federal funding, smaller endowments, access to financial capital and resources that best serve their unique circumstances - not just funding for major campus infrastructure improvements - and a lack of resources to support students from underserved communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a high beam in the face of academic inequality, the lack of economic resiliency for communities of color and ineffective crisis management and contingency planning for the education system. Despite these discrepancies, HBCUs continue their mission to promote black excellence and nurture the growth, vitality, and upliftment of the black community. For many local municipalities across the country, HBCUs are a major economic engine for the surrounding community; thus, the impact of the coronavirus will have a lingering effect for many years ahead.

To read part one of the series and to review BWC Consulting's HBCU Post-Coronavirus Playbook, visit the website -

About BWC Consulting

BWC Consulting is a minority-owned and led boutique economic development finance consulting firm. As a socially conscious firm, BWC takes a holistic, objective, and entrepreneurial approach to consulting with units of local government, higher education clients, operating companies, and emerging enterprises. Started in 2005 by Bridget Chisholm, Founder and Managing Partner, BWC has proven itself and established a strong track record structuring public-private financing for projects targeted to strengthen communities and the people they serve. Learn more:

Michelle Jackson
PR Solutions LLC

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Business, Free News Articles

The Devil is in the Details: Black-owned BWC Capital Works to Demystify Federal Stimulus PPP Loan Forgiveness

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Black-owned North Carolina-based investment firm, BWC Capital secured a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) forgivable small business loan during the first round of available funds several weeks ago.

After evaluating the pros and cons of the loan forgiveness aspect of the program, and how small businesses - particularly businesses owned by people of color - are struggling to secure the loan and may face challenges in accessing loan forgiveness, the firm is working to inform small businesses about the importance to remain vigilant about their loan status and loan forgiveness requirements under the current guidelines.

To read a recent interview with the BWC Capital team and to learn about the relief program's loan forgiveness requirements, visit the company's website -

"Qualifying for a PPP loan as a minority-owned business brought with it a set of hurdles that we were fortunate to navigate," said Bridget Chisholm, BWC's founder and managing partner. "But once we secured the loan and delved into the requirements to better understand the loan forgiveness component, we recognized the importance of helping our clients, partners, and other small business owners understand the program's requirements and hopefully help prevent potential barriers to returning to business as usual once we reach the other side of the pandemic."

In the wake of the novel coronavirus, small businesses across the U.S. scramble to secure the funding needed to survive the current economic downturn. While the country struggles to create and implement a national strategy to safeguard its once bolstering economy, business owners look to federal, state, and local governments for guidance on how to successfully navigate the current crisis. In response to this immediate call for action, Congress has passed two small business bailout packages over the last several months. The $349 billion for forgivable PPP loans included in the initial relief package was exhausted in less than two weeks. Congress subsequently provided an additional $310 billion in relief funds, which are currently being allocated to small businesses in need.

Now in its second round of implementation, the PPP loan program includes $60 billion in set-aside dollars to be provided to small businesses by community development lenders, credit unions, and certain other smaller lenders. The intent of the set-aside is to ensure that more PPP loans reach businesses owned by people of color, as this group was not well-served with the initial round of funds.

During the recent interview, BWC's founder and managing partner, Bridget Chisholm and BWC's senior partner, E.L. Chisholm discussed key elements to the PPP loan forgiveness program's qualification structure, important deadlines, and next steps. In their own words, "the devil is in the details" and what appears to be an easily accessible solution for small businesses is instead marred by time-sensitive loan forgiveness guidelines that could lead to penalties and interest-bearing debt repayment.

About BWC Capital

BWC Capital, LLC is a private equity firm headquartered in North Carolina. In operation since 2013, BWC Capital was formed to address opportunities outside the scope of BWC Consulting, a boutique strategy and financial advisory consulting firm in existence since 2005, and in response to the insatiable demand and widening gap for access to capital by emerging- and growth-oriented businesses. To learn more about BWC Capital visit

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Awards and Honors, Business, Free News Articles, Taxes and Accounting

Reconciled Wins Small Business Association’s (SBA) Minority-Owned Business of the Year Award

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Local cloud-based company Reconciled is honored to join a long list of outstanding small businesses as the winner of Vermont's Small Business Association's Minority-Owned Business of the Year award.

CEO Michael Ly started Reconciled in 2015 after moving to Burlington and discovering that many clients weren't keeping good financial records. Michael realized he could solve the problem - on a local level and beyond - with cloud-based accounting tools.

In under four years, Reconciled has grown to a staff of over 20, serves over 100 customers monthly, and has surpassed the seven figure mark in revenue. The company has also opened offices in Charlottesville, Los Angeles and Denver. "I would not have guessed it would have gotten this big or grown this fast at all," Michael says of Reconciled's extraordinary growth.

Michael's parents immigrated from Cambodia, and most of his family members are entrepreneurs. He credits his entrepreneurial and consulting background for getting Reconciled off the ground so quickly. But what really keeps them growing, he believes, is their ability to earn - and keep - client trust.

"Accounting itself is not sexy, but what is is when entrepreneurs can feel that they are thriving. That's what our team does: we make sure that they're able to make educated financial decisions because of accurate numbers," says Michael. "The feedback we get from our customers is that they actually love our bookkeepers, which is a rare thing to hear."

The SBA award recognizes the impact of entrepreneurs who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation, community initiatives and commitment to local economic growth. Ly and other local winners will receive their awards at the 2019 Vermont Small Business Awards Ceremony in June.

About the U.S. Small Business Association:

National small business week has been running for over 50 years with the purpose of highlighting outstanding contributions of American entrepreneurs from all 50 states. Winners of the SBA awards join the ranks of some major household names, including ben and jerry's and Tom's of Maine. For more information on the National Small Business Week Awards, visit the U.S. Small Business Association website:

About Reconciled:

In 2015, Reconciled opened in Burlington, Vermont, using the most innovative, best-in-class digital tools to provide online bookkeeping services to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the U.S. and beyond. Reconciled's dedication to innovative technology use made them Intuit's 2018 U.S. Firm of the Future. Their team of U.S.-based accounting professionals have a broad range of proven industry experience. Reconciled now employs a growing team of 20 dedicated professionals, and has offices in Burlington, Vermont, Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California. Learn more at:

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