Scale Up North Awards

2021 Scale Up North Awards Winners Announced

Traverse City Ticker 
Traverse City Ticker
May 14, 2021
By Craig Manning

At a virtual awards ceremony held Friday morning, Traverse Connect announced the winners of its second annual Scale Up North Awards, a program that seeks to “recognize and celebrate the vibrant and varied companies doing business” in northern Michigan. Taste the Local Difference claimed the “Emerging Business Award,” while Short’s Brewing Company won the “Hagerty Scaling Business Award.”

A panel of 10 judges, including the leaders of the businesses that won last year’s awards (Interactive Aerial and TentCraft, respectively), narrowed down the field from 17 initial competitors, to 10 preliminary finalists, and then to three finalists in each category. The judging process involved virtual business visits, a May 12 pitch night featuring the top six finalists, a discussion panel, and more.

The “Emerging Business” category is meant to recognize smaller local businesses that are “in the startup phase of growth.” Finalists selected for this category need to have been in business for less than five years and have three or more employees. Other finalists this year included Common Good Bakery and Earthen Ales. Judges selected Taste the Local Difference, praising the organization for achieving “a tremendous amount of growth in their first few years of business” and for “taking the meaning of local to a whole new level.” Taste the Local Difference will receive a $2,500 cash prize, as well as a bundle of in-kind services and benefits “valued at more than $24,000.”

The Hagerty Scaling Business Award is intended to honor established businesses that are scaling and growing. To qualify, a business must have been operating for five years or more, earned $500,000 or greater in 2020 revenue, and have up to 150 employees. Short’s Brewing Company edged out two other beverage industry players – Higher Grounds Trading Company and Traverse City Whiskey Co. – to claim the $5,000 cash prize and the $44,000 prize package of in-kind services. Judges celebrated Short’s for its “great product and iconic brand,” for helping revitalize the town of Bellaire, for their nationwide brand recognition, and for showing “that you can continue to grow and stay true to your values.”

Traverse Connect created the Scale Up North Awards in 2020 as a replacement for the Small Business Celebration, previously hosted by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce from 2005 to 2019. While the awards ceremonies for both years of the Scale Up North Awards have been held via Zoom, Traverse Connect CEO Warren Call signed off on Friday by stating “We hope to see you again, in-person, next year for these events, and also in-person very soon as we enter into this spring, summer, and fall season.”