PORTLAND – Electric guitars and leis aren’t quite gold statues, but then again entreverge, honoring emerging entrepreneurs, isn’t the typical awards event.

And the awards aren’t as much about honoring those at the top of their game as it is lending a hand to businesses that deserve help.

PROPEL, which began in 2006 as the young professionals’ arm of the Portland Regional Chamber, held the event Wednesday night at Port City Music Hall. In a field of 41 nominees, five were selected as winners: Chart Metal Works, DSO Creative Fabrications, Flyte New Media, Maples Organics and the North Star Music Cafe.

To improve their businesses, each winner receives membership in the chamber, a portable sign and access to the area’s business leaders and consultants.

And each one took home an electric guitar and a lei.

Susan Pye, the chair of entreverge, said the idea for the event came about last year when PROPEL was looking to have a premier event, and an award show was suggested.

“We really kept the format loose. As far as what qualifications there were for winners we just wanted to find some people that were deserving,” she said.

The main goal was to find businesses that had been open for a few years and “help give them a leg up or move them to the next level” by providing them with free services such as consulting, she said.

Nominations were open for about two months, and the nominees completed a questionnaire about their businesses, future plans and how winning would help them.

Winning was very beneficial, said one of last year’s winners, Emilie Sommer, who owns her own photo studio, Emilie Inc., specializing in wedding photography.

In the last year, she has nearly tripled her staff and has tightened her business plan with help from consultants that PROPEL provided.

Meeting one of her new mentors, Angela Adams, “was one of the highlights of my year,” Sommer said.

Adams, owner of angela adams designs, inspired Sommer and helped her map out her business, she said, and they might not have connected if it weren’t for the award.

“It was fantastic. I think another benefit was the relationship I formed with the other winners,” she said.

That field of winners doubled in size, with Wednesday’s awards.

Charlotte Leavitt, the owner of Chart Metal Work and one of this year’s winners, said winning was very exciting and she looks forward to using the benefits to expand her business.

Leavitt’s company creates custom jewelry by using nautical charts from places that are important to the buyers.

improving her business, she hopes to spread her company’s message about personality in jewelry nationwide: “Wear your world and tell your story.”

 

Staff Writer Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at:

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