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Entrepreneurs

Meet The 2024 CEA Winners

By Staff Reports, posted May 3, 2024
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.

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 on the following pages. 

One of them will be named the 2024 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year. Keep an eye out on our website 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) 375-7295

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 this year were:

Paul Baron
, Wall Printing USA 
(2023 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year)
Rob Burrus, UNCW Cameron School of Business
Chris Capone, Capone & Associates
Barrett Earney, Earney IT
Dana Fisher, North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce
Josh Hallingse, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Dawn Nicole Johnson, Burgaw Area Chamber of Commerce
Randall Johnson, NC Biotechnology Center’s Southeastern Office
Heather McWhorter, UNCW CIE
John Monahan, Vistage
Girard Newkirk, Genesis Block 
(2019 and 2021 CEA category winner)
Russell Nugent, The Humphries Law Firm P.C.
Michael Pawlikowski, TeamLogic IT
Tammy Proctor, Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Sara Raleigh, SCORE
Drew Smith, Copiers Plus
Jeffrey Stites, Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce
Andrea Walker, Lighthouse Films 
(2020 Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year)
 

2024 Winners:  View the 2024 CEA Winners
 
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