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Entrepreneurs

Meet This Year's 2019 CEA Winners

By Vicky Janowski, posted May 3, 2019
Photos by Michael Cline Spencer and Terah Wilson
Who would you invest $100,000 in?
 
That’s one of the pieces of advice we give our Coastal Entrepreneur Award judges each year when they’re faced with the task of making their picks.
 
Who shows high-growth potential?
 
Who is making a name for themselves and cutting through the noise?
 
Who, out of these stacks and stacks of nominations, do you see as entrepreneurial?
 
And then we let the judges loose.
 
This year was no different as our panel of outside judges met to deliberate over the 10 category winners in this year’s CEA process. The nominations, submitted to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal from company employees, directors, clients and in some cases just outside admirers, represent a cross section of the region’s business community.
 
The awards are a joint effort between University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and the Business Journal to identify and recognize fast-growing organizations and businesses with the potential to make a significant impact on the region.
 
You can read more about the companies that rose to the top of their categories this year on the following pages. One of them will be named the 2019 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year at an awards event May 22.
 
The panel of judges knows the impact of winning one of these awards – or becoming the overall Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year – can have on a company.
 
Some have gotten real, not just hypothetical, investment offers because of it; all gain additional exposure through this special issue and the upcoming May 22 awards.
 
And one gets a sweet, wooden surfboard – custom made by local nonprofit and former category winner Kids Making It – to proudly display at its offices for the next year.
 
The second panel of judges looks even closer at the 10 category winners and decides who gets the honor of being named the 2019 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year – and the surfboard.
 
It beats a wall plaque.   
 

 The Coastal Entrepreneur Awards (CEA) is run by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
 
CEA’s goal is to shine a spotlight on up-andcoming companies, helping them make connections in the community as well as showcase the region’s entrepreneurial activity.
 
The competition involves two rounds of judging in which the applicants are judged on two criteria:
 
Is the organization entrepreneurial?
 
Of those that are entrepreneurial, which organization is most likely to be financially successful?
 
For nonprofits, the standard is which is likely to have the most impact.
 
First, all the applications are evaluated by representatives of area business groups and the competition’s sponsors. This group picks the category winners.
 
The second round of judges selects the 2019 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year.
 

The first-round judges were:


Jerry Coleman, Cape Fear Community College Small Business Center

Diane Durance, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Natalie English, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Randall Johnson, N.C. Biotechnology Center

John Lerch, North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce

Heather McWhorter, SBTDC

Tammy Proctor, Pender County

Sara Raleigh, SCORE

April Scott, Brunswick Community Center Small Business Center

Reggie Shropshire, Action Coach

Don Spry, SBA

Chris Utesch, CloudWyze


The second-round judges were:


Timur Davis, Live Oak Bank

Diane Durance, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Todd John, PlayerSpace

Randall Johnson, N.C. Biotechnology Center

Pete Peterson, Manufacturing Methods

Melissa Phillippi, Performance Culture

Karl Ricanek, Lapetus Solutions

CoastalEntrepreneur.com


2019 CEA Winners by category:


2019 Chamber of Commerce Winners
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