MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota mother of two is part of a very elite group.

Her business is one of 65 in the United States that will split $20-billion worth of contracted IT work.

In her Minnetonka office of Ideal System Solutions, Elise Hernandez gathered quite the crowd Saturday. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton surrounded her with praise, as did Gary Cunningham of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association.

Before this moment, the mother and entrepreneur had never hosted a press conference, nor had she hosted a guest list like this.

The business she started in 1997 sells computer products and services, and will be supplying millions worth of work to the different U.S. government agencies.

Hernandez found out the good news in April.

“We got the notification we had won, I was ecstatic,” Hernandez said. “I actually bought champagne for the sales meeting that was two hours later.”

The first in her family to get an MBA, Hernandez’s company was a school project she put into play after graduation. It has grown with the help of a local minority business group, and now it is greatly expanding.

“Being successful, the company is successful. It just so happens to be run by a woman minority,” she said.

She is a woman who grew up in St. Louis Park on welfare; a woman who has made a name for herself and for so many others.

“No matter what your circumstances are, there’s always opportunity if you have the passion and you are driven and you have the right team around you,” Hernandez said.

It is not clear how much of the $20 billion her company will get of the contract, but it will likely be millions of dollars of work.

Hernandez, who lives in the Brainerd area, has offices in Minnetonka and several states, and has already started expanding her staff.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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