Traverse Connect Announces Top Six Finalists For 2022 Scale Up North Awards

Traverse Connect has announced the top six finalists for its 2022 Scale Up Awards. The annual awards contest, which honors exceptional for-profit companies in Traverse Connect’s five-county service area, is set to conclude next month with a live event at the City Opera House on May 5. Judges selected three finalists in two different categories – the Emerging Business Award, which spotlights smaller businesses “in the startup phase of growth”; and the Hagerty Scaling Business Award, which focuses on larger businesses with five years of operation or more under their belts – after making in-person visits to a broader pool of 10 semifinalists announced last month.

The six finalists include:

Emerging Business Award

· The Elk Rapids Marina on Elk Lake/The DAM Shop, a marina and boat dealership based in the Elk Rapids area. Originally established in 1984, the business was acquired by new owners last year and renamed from Elk River Marina to Elk Rapids Marina on Elk Lake. The new owners are investing in significant renovations and expansions.

· FirstIgnite, a Traverse City-based startup which gained local attention by winning a TCNewTech pitch competition last fall. A graduate of the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator, the business exists to “connect companies, consultants, and investors with global academic experts in order to help them make better decisions.”

· Shift Health Center, also known as Shift Chiropractic, is a chiropractic center in Traverse City that focuses on upper cervical spinal treatments. Since opening its doors in June 2018, Shift has expanded from a team of one doctor and three employees to three doctors and nine employees.

Hagerty Scaling Business Award

· Grand Traverse Distillery, the acclaimed distillery founded in 2005 by Kent Rabish and now distributing its products throughout Michigan and to select markets elsewhere in the Midwest. Grand Traverse Distillery focuses on making spirits with exclusively local grains, all sourced “from farms just a few miles down the road.”

· Oryana Community Cooperative, the locally-owned cooperative grocer, which has long been committed to providing the Traverse City area with “high-quality food produced in ecologically sound ways at fair value to owners and the community.” The business was established in 1973 by “a small group of pioneering people,” who got together “to obtain wholesome food at fair prices.” It now spans two full-fledged grocery stores in Traverse City

· Truly Free calls itself “the first company to revolutionize the cleaning industry with safe, non-toxic products delivered in refillable and sustainable packaging.” The business makes eco-friendly laundry, bathroom, kitchen, and home cleaners and provides first-time customers with free refillable bottles. Subsequence orders are refill packets that utilize minimal plastic and packaging materials.

Other businesses that had featured in this year’s initial Scale Up North Awards top 10 included Golden Swan Management and Refuge Salon in the Emerging Business category; and Hilbert’s Honey Co. and Pets Naturally in the Scaling Business category. Janis Adams, a partner at Danbrook Adams Raymond and one of the Scale Up North judges for this year, said of the businesses in contention: “This year we had a very competitive group, making for some very tough choices. We saw incredible growth, hard work, and dedication to product and service across all the Top 10 companies. It was a stellar group, and ultimately, these six finalists all have clear paths to scalability and are examples of how the Grand Traverse Region is a good place to grow a business.”

At next month’s finals event, the businesses in the Emerging Business Category will participate in a pitch competition, while the three finalists in the Scaling Business category will take part in a panel discussion.

Tickets for the finals are available on the Traverse Connect website and are $35 apiece.



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