LANSING — Eight area companies will be among the more than 70 honored at the 14th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards program in Lansing in May.

The awards gala is scheduled for Thursday, May 3, at the Lansing Center. The event is held during National Small Business Week, April 29 through May 5.

Among the honorees are the 2018 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. Four of the 50 companies are located in northern Michigan: Bulmann Dock and Lift in Boyne City; Central Industrial Manufacturing, Inc. in Harbor Springs; Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville; and Venturi in Traverse City.

Companies nominated for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch list must meet certain criteria. All must be privately-held companies headquartered in the state. According to a release, nominees must be "second-stage companies, defined as having six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants."

A team of judges from banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital industries then evaluate the nominees "demonstration of intent and capacity to grow" based on employee or sales growth, exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage and other factors.

Iron Fish Distillery grows and sources local grain to distill a full line of small-batch craft spirits on a reclaimed 1890’s farmstead. Inspired by the steelhead trout that journey each year to their origin in the nearby Betsie River, Iron Fish uses heritage methods of distilling on an environmentally third-party-verified farm growing non GMO grain. Every step of the process is done by hand at the distillery.

Cigar and Spirits Magazine named Iron Fish Distillery's Michigan Woodland Gin a Top 30 Spirits of the World in 2017. It recently won an award from the Denver International Spirits Competition for its Woodland Gin. Spirits are distributed in Michigan and soon will be available in Illinois and Colorado. 2018 capital investments will increase production, barrel aging capacity and on site food offerings.

Four other area businesses are on the list of honorees at the gala.

Redi-Rock International of Charlevoix is the winner of the Michigan 50 Distinguished Alumni Award-Strategically Focused.

Chateau Chantal of Traverse City is one of 10 Michigan Small Business Development Center's Best Small Business honorees.

Two northern Michigan companies are among the seven in the Procurement Technical Assistance Center's Best Small Business honorees, Fresh Baby of Petoskey and Moran Iron Words, Inc. of Onaway.

Tickets for the event are $145 per person. Table discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased and more information is available at

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a partnership between several organizations, including the Michigan SBDC, MEDC, the Edward Lowe Foundation, Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Business Network and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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