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Entrepreneurs

Meet The 2021 CEA Winners

By Vicky Janowski, posted May 7, 2021
From using artificial intelligence to predict sales to capitalizing on a seafood staple, this year’s Coastal Entrepreneur Awards winners run the gamut. While vastly different, what the 11 companies and organizations do have in common is being chosen by a panel of judges as CEA category winners.

Their wins were based on whether they are entrepreneurial and of those deemed entrepreneurial, which organizations were most likely to be financially successful (or for nonprofits, have the most impact). Read more about the process and the winners inside this issue.
 
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?
 
Our panel of outside judges deliberated and picked the 11 category winners in this year’s CEA process.
 
The winning companies represent fields ranging from tech startups to manufacturing to retail.
 
This year, the Business Journal added a category recognizing minority-owned businesses for the judges to consider.
 
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 the 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 by following the links below.
 
One of them will be named the 2021 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year. Keep an eye out on our website (WilmingtonBiz. com) and social media channels for the announcement of this year’s event to name the overall winner.
 
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years in the awards program is the Stanley Cup of Southeastern North Carolina entrepreneurship – the CEA surfboard.
 
This year’s Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year adopts the wooden surfboard – custom made by local nonprofit and former category winner Kids Making It – to proudly display at its office for the next year after it’s been passed down from a long line of successful companies that also have earned the title.
 
So jump in, find out this year’s category winners and send them a note of congrats.
 
Vicky Janowski, editor
Greater Wilmington Business Journal
[email protected]
(910) 343-8600, ext. 208
On Twitter: @vickyjanowski

 

Judging the Applicants

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-and-coming 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 to determine the category winners. During the second round of evaluations with more detailed information, the judges select the Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year. 


The judges were:

Michael Barron, Quality Chemical Laboratories LLC
Chakema Clinton-Quintana, Live Oak Bank
Jerry Coleman, CFCC’s Small Business Center
Diane Durance, UNCW CIE
Dana Fisher, North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce
Justin Humphries, The Humphries Law Firm
Randall Johnson, N.C. Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office
Harry Kioko, Canapi Ventures
Clay Mclean, Live Oak Bank
Heather Mcwhorter, SBTDC
Tammy Proctor, Pender County Government
Sara Raleigh, Score Cape Fear
April Scott, Brunswick Community College’s Small Business Center
Jc Smith, Live Oak Bank
Arwyn Smith, Burgaw Area Chamber of Commerce
Jeffrey Stites, Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce
Jason Wheeler, Pathfinder Wealth Consulting
Adrian Wilson, CloudWyze


2021 CEA Winners by category:

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