May 15—TRAVERSE CITY — Making a difference in a community and beyond in a challenging economic climate was celebrated at Traverse Connect's second annual Scale Up North virtual award ceremony Friday.
Taste the Local Difference of Traverse City won the Emerging Business Award and Antrim County's Short's Brewing Company claimed the Hagerty Scaling Business Award.
The Emerging Business Award is for companies open less than five years with at least three full-time employees.
The Scaling Business Award is for companies in operation for at least five years, employing up to 150 people with revenue of at least $500,000 in 2019.
Taste the Local Difference CEO Tricia Phelps said her staff was reflecting on last year after sending its 2021 Local Food Guide to the printer on Monday.
"It was incredible to talk about that as a team and really acknowledge everything that's happened in the last 12 months," Phelps said. "This just feels like recognition of that whole work."
Like Phelps before him, Short's Brewing Company founder Joe Short said he was "very honored and just really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this program." Short's has a microbrewery and brewpub in Bellaire and a production facility in Elk Rapids.
"We're super appreciative and a little taken aback, to be honest with you," Short said. "It's a great way to close out a Friday."
The other two finalists in the Scaling Business Award were Higher Grounds Trading Company and Traverse City Whiskey Co. The other two finalists for the Emerging Business Award were Common Ground Bakery and Earthen Ales.
Steve Perdue, chair of the Traverse Connect Board of Directors, said the six businesses showed an ability to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This year's Scale Up North finalists showed us the unique qualities of the northern Michigan entrepreneurial spirit; a love of community, creativity and perseverance during difficult economic times," the retiring president and CEO of Grand Traverse Industries said.
"Traverse Connect is dedicated to supporting and promoting the Grand Traverse region as a place to develop and grow a business. These six finalists epitomize that ideal and have succeeded in the face of of unusual adversity."
Applications for the 2021 Scale Up North Awards opened Feb. 1 and closed Feb. 19. A total of 17 companies submitted videos March 17 and 10 finalists were named March 19.
Following virtual visits by the judges April 7-8, the six finalists were named on April 9.
The three Emerging Business Award finalists held a pitch night competition on May 12. The three Scaling Business Award finalists conducted a panel discussion on May 13.
The Scaling Business Award winner earned a prize of $5,000 and more than $44,000 in in-kind services.
The Emerging Business Award winner earned a prize of $2,500 as part of a total award package of more than $24,000 in in-kind services.