Traverse City News and Events

Traverse Connect Ends Small Business Celebration, Launches New Scale Up North Awards

By Beth Milligan | Feb. 5, 2020

Traverse Connect will end its Small Business Celebration this year, a program created in 2005 to highlight the critical role that small business plays in northern Michigan’s economy. But the organization is launching a new event in its place: the Scale Up North Awards, focused on highlighting businesses in the technology, creative, and traded industries.

The Scale Up North Awards will recognize businesses in two stages of growth: the Emerging Business Award and the Hagerty Scaling Business Award. Both awards are open to for-profit companies in Traverse Connect’s five-county service area. Applications will be accepted through Friday, February 21 online through Traverse Connect’s new website.

The Emerging Business Award is focused on supporting new local businesses in the startup phases of growth. Eligibility criteria for companies applying for the Emerging Business Award are less than five years in business, with any amount of revenue, and at least three full-time employees. The Hagerty Scaling Business Award is focused on supporting existing scaling businesses with demonstrated growth. Eligibility criteria for companies applying for the Hagerty Scaling Business Award are more than five years in business, revenue in 2019 that is greater than or equal to $500,000, and up to 150 full-time employees.

"We’re excited to launch the Scale Up North Awards to recognize growing businesses in our area, which are helping drive a diverse and growing economy for the Grand Traverse Region," says Traverse Connect President and CEO Warren Call. "Every day, I meet business leaders or employees from companies in the traded industries, creative, and tech sectors that deserve recognition for their innovative and diverse contributions to our business sector. The Scale Up North Awards are a new program for us to help these companies attain higher rates of growth and attract talented workers for challenging and rewarding careers."

A panel of judges will select up to 25 companies to be featured at the Scale Up North Showcase on February 27 at The Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College, which is free and open to the public. The top five finalists for each award will be announced on February 28, the day following the showcase. On March 6, the field will be narrowed to the top three finalists for each award, who will participate in the Scale Up North Finals, a ticketed event on March 18 at the City Opera House. The Scale Up North Finals will feature a pitch competition for the three finalists for the Emerging Business Award, followed by a moderated panel discussion with the three finalists for the Hagerty Scaling Business Award. Judges will deliberate and make a live announcement of the winners that evening.

Call tells The Ticker that the Small Business Celebration - previously run by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, which recently merged with Traverse Connect - had "been ongoing for a long time and run its course." He continues: "The bigger thing was we're really excited about promoting and supporting the growing businesses in the tech, traded, and creative industries. This gives an opportunity to focus on those scaling businesses."

For more information on the Scale up North Awards, click here.

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