(FLINT, Mich. – March 4, 2016) Today, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and the eTEAM named the 2016 Rising Star and Spark Award recipients during the ninth annual Jumpstart Entrepreneur Conference. About 100 aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners were on hand at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre to learn how to start and grow a small business.

“Small business owners are making a significant contribution to the reinvention of our region and providing a great energetic spirit, which is so important to the economic well-being and our future,” said Chamber CEO Tim Herman. “Moreover, encouraging creativity and ingenuity through the introduction of new products and businesses will continue to help grow our economy.”

The Spark Award honors start-up businesses that have been operating for less than two years. It recognizes their “entrepreneurial spark,” as demonstrated by their determination, vision, market, growth potential, and setting and achieving business goals. This year’s winners are:

  • Charma’s Green Chips, Flint. Charma’s Green Chips are dehydrated and toasted collard greens and kale. The alternative organic snack began as a way to teach Flint children about healthy nutrition.
  • Hot Cups & Wanna Spoon, Flint. Hot Cups & Wanna Spoon is an all organic coffee and tea shop, with Michigan roasted beans, specialty gifts and loose leaf teas.
  • Paula’s Clubhouse, Mt. Morris. Paula’s Clubhouse is a childcare and learning center serving infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and pre-kindergartners. It also offers before- and after-school programs for school-aged children.
  • Vetcon, Inc., Flint. Vetcon, Inc. does commercial and institutional building construction, including electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and other types of associated contracting.

Flint-based Great Lakes Facility Management received the Rising Star Award, which honors a business that is beyond the startup phase and has strengths related to growth, leadership, operations, innovation, and/or special work in the community.

Great Lakes Facility Management, a minority-owned small business since 2010, provides building maintenance services in Michigan and Indiana, including janitorial, snow removal and facility management. The company was recognized for its flexibility in providing custom contract services to clients and always exceeding customer expectations. It has tripled business in the past year and continues to create more jobs.

“The Rising Star and Spark awards celebrate this year’s group of innovators and risk-takers while allowing others who wish to follow in their footsteps to see what can be accomplished through preparation and commitment,” said Herman.

Dan Crannie, owner of Signs by Crannie, a full-service commercial sign company with plants in Michigan and Florida, was the keynote speaker for today’s conference. The company employs 46 people who design, construct, install and service commercial signs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Last September, Signs by Crannie opened a new 52,000-square-foot facility in Flint Township and celebrated 30 years in business.

The Chamber’s eTEAM is a regional collaboration of entrepreneurial service providers working to connect local entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to promote growth and success. The eTEAM member organizations include:  Michigan Small Business Development Center, City of Flint, GST Michigan Works!  and Metro Community Development in addition to many other service providers.

For more information, visit www.flintandgenesee.org.  Check us out on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.