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Small Businesses Honored April 29 in Lansing at Michigan Celebrates Small Business

April 30, 2010

(In photo, SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler with Innovation Award winner Kyle Schwulst of ElectroJet)

Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB), the state’s premier awards event celebrating small business excellence and the importance of small business success to Michigan’s economy, was held April 29th at the Lansing Center.

“Michigan Celebrates Small Business fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in Michigan,” says Carol Lopucki – State Director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. “The event is an opportunity to celebrate the success of small business in Michigan by highlighting over 60 small businesses that have helped build Michigan’s economy in 2009.”

Well-known green energy entrepreneur Maria Thompson, President and CEO of T/J Technologies, Inc., a nationally recognized Michigan company for proprietary alternative energy technologies, was the keynote speaker.

Five founders that support and celebrate entrepreneurialism in Michigan banded together in 2005 to create Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state’s premier awards ceremony for entrepreneurs and small business leaders. The event’s founders are the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event were PNC, Clark Hill PLC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, Comcast Business Class/Comcast Spotlight and Dynamic Edge Inc.

Media partners for Michigan Celebrates Small Business were MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News, Michigan Radio,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.

About the Winners

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

“Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” (download list here) is an awards program sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

“Now 300 strong, the second-stage businesses that comprise the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch have not only persevered through challenging times, but also found opportunities to grow,” says Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “They continue to hire and develop new markets for their products and services. Some have attracted significant amounts of venture capital, while others have been awarded prestigious federal grants. They are making a substantial difference in their communities — and their industries. Our 2010 inductees are proof that entrepreneurs are, and always have been, the future of Michigan’s economy.”

Companies nominated for the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list must be second-stage companies, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

Winners were selected by judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities. Judges evaluated the nominees’ demonstrated intent and capacity to grow based on one or more of the following:

• Employee or sales growth.
• Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership.
• Sustainable competitive advantage.
• Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) of Michigan Small Business Awards

“Michigan’s entrepreneurs and small businesses are becoming increasingly important contributors to our economy,” said Richard Temkin, SBA Michigan District Director. “I am very proud that one of our Michigan award winners has won SBA’s Midwest regional award.” Charles Reid (Charter House Innovations, Holland) is Michigan’s Small Business Person of the Year and is in contention for the national award, which will be announced during National Small Business Week, May 22-25.

The other  award winners for Michigan are: Michigan and Midwest Region Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Stewart W. Beal, President, Beal, Inc., Ann Arbor; Michigan Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year: DeWitt Barrels, Inc., Marne; Michigan Financial Services Champion: Derek Edwards, Vice President Huntington National Bank, Mt. Clemens; Michigan Minority Small Business Champion: William R. Ross, President, Booker T. Washington Business Association, Detroit; Women in Business Champions: Carrie Hensel, Co-Founder and Co-President, Debra Power, Co-Founder and Co-President, Women’s Exchange of Washtenaw, Ann Arbor; Michigan Veteran Small Business Champion: Daniel P. Whisnant, Government Sales Specialist, Stryker Medical, Portage; Michigan Small Business Counselor: James D. Beauchamp, Senior Business Consultant, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, Escanaba; Small Business Journalist of the Year: Lucy Ann Lance, Co-Owner Lance & Erskine Communications, LLC, Ann Arbor.

For more information on the SBA award winners, please contact the SBA Michigan District Office at (313) 226-6075, x225 or e-mail

Other Awards

Innovation Award: ElectroJet of Brighton’s Electronic Fuel Injection systems for non-automotive applications including motorcycles and scooters. To be eligible for this award, a product or service must have been developed and earned revenue during the past three years and be nominated to the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Best Small Business – Main Street USA Award: Maestro eLearning of Kalamazoo designs online training courses that maximize the advantages of distance learning through revolutionary e-learning principles.  To be eligible for this award the small business must be a client of the MI-SBTDC who participated in a substantial amount of MI-SBTDC programs that resulted in a positive impact on the company in areas such as access to capital, development and implementation of a strategic plan and entry into new markets.

Government Contracting Award: GS Engineering of Houghton provides complete engineering of lightweight structures for military and commercial vehicles. They develop the structural systems, then build and field test prototypes to validate the design.  To be eligible for this award the small business must be a client of a Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and received a minimum of one year assistance to help the business win or come substantially closer to winning a government contract.

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