Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 14, 2013

Local companies make A-list

BY KATHY GIBBONS kgibbons@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Northern Lower Michigan is well represented in this year’s list of “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch."

Seven of the 50 are from the Traverse City and Cadillac areas. They include Grand Traverse Distillery, Altus Brands LLC, Cherry Capital Foods, Critter Control, M-22, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, all in Traverse City, and Cadillac Culvert Inc. in Cadillac.

The fact that so many local businesses are on the list is no accident, said Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Northwestern Michigan has been really represented in the 50 Companies to Watch in the last several years,” Luciani said. “Some of the most innovative work being done in the fields that the 50 Companies to Watch looks at is being done up here.

“And as the state has been in general recession, this area has continued to grow and do better and outperform the rest of the state,” he said.

Jennifer Deamud is associate state director of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, which provides services to existing, growing technology-based and start-up companies and is one of the program’s managing partners. Those eligible for the 50 to Watch list must be “second-stage” companies that are established and can show they’re in a growth pattern, she said. Other requirements include having six to 99 full-time employees or $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue and being headquartered in Michigan.

Nominations to the program have been increasing, Deamud said. That’s due in part to a growing awareness of the nine-year-old Michigan 50 to Watch program and the annual “Michigan Celebrates Small Business” gala event that it ties into. Also, Deamud said, more businesses are growing as state and federal resources to support investment and expansion become more available.

“We figure 62 percent of the Michigan 50 to Watch, we’ve had contact with," she said. "They’ve been our client at some time during their growth."

Hundreds of nominations were submitted this year. Those were whittled to 100 finalists, after which judging and a detailed vetting process took place to identify the 50 that made the list.

“If your numbers are more solid or your growth exceeds another company’s, of course, that’s going to be something the judges look at, as well as your employee count,” Deamud said. “(Let's) say five years ago you had six employees and today you have 70 because of that growth and you can substantiate that — the increase in sales, the increase in job creation — those are two key factors that the judges look at when analyzing an application.”

The 50 companies will be recognized at the gala in Lansing on May 2. For more information visit www.michigancelebrates.biz.