Every March, Innovate Huntsville Week is a weeklong, jam-packed event filled with networking, support, collaboration, and the celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well in the area.
Innovate Huntsville connects entrepreneurs and innovators with local resources to build solid networks and opportunities around Huntsville’s small business economy.
Innovate Huntsville 2019 kicked off with Ignite, the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber-sponsored mixer, providing an opportunity for participants to get acquainted. The week continued with the HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge, Engineer-to-Entrepreneur Tech Roadshow, Small Business Microloan Clinic, Entrepreneur’s Roundtable, the Angels of North Alabama Investment Forum, Urban Engine’s Co-Working Night, a Boost Pitch Competition and R.I.S.E. networking.
Capping off the celebration was the fourth annual Entrepreneur Awards luncheon, presented by the Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship, at the Campus 805 Stone Event Center.
This year’s winners are:
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Lee Marshall, founder/CEO of Kids to Love. Awarded to the entrepreneur who has been in business for more than three years and has a proven track record for sustainability, strategic direction, future growth and community involvement.
“There’s an incredible pool of talent in Huntsville,” she said. “And I’m honored to be selected among so many great people doing amazing things in our city!”
CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Rachel Lackey, owner and founder of Green Pea Press. Awarded to a non-technical entrepreneur whose focus is in
the retail, arts, entertainment, or culinary industry and has a proven track record for sustainability.
“I am excited and honored,” Lackey said. “Winning this award feels like a validation of all the hard work that I’ve put in and all the challenges I’ve faced up to this point.
“I appreciate the Catalyst including the creative sector among their honorees; so often we get overlooked in favor of tech entrepreneurism, but I think it’s important to recognize that creatives are the ones on the ground, so to speak, engaging and changing the culture of our community.”
VETERAN ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – LaBerrick Williams, owner of Jell’s 4 Ever BBQ. Awarded to an outstanding military-veteran entrepreneur in the North Alabama region.
“My ‘why’ stems from my late grandparents, Jell and Ever Scruggs, hence, my restaurant’s name – Jell’s 4 Ever BBQ – to carry on their legacy,” Williams said. “Their selfless service and delicious food brought the community together for years. Our intertwined logo J4E is a symbol of their union of 75 years and stands for family, love, togetherness and happiness. This is our ideology for the world.”
EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Dr. Morgan L. Goss, Dove Family Health. Awarded to the entrepreneur who has been in business for one to three years and has a proven track record for sustainability with room for growth.
“I do what I do because there is an insatiable desire to see my own people thrive in health,” Goss said. “I desire for my own people have access to affordable, accessible and compassionate health care experiences.”
FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Edwina Musante, founder/CEO/president, Cortina Solutions. Awarded to an outstanding female entrepreneur in the North
Alabama Region. The winner of this award will be submitted to the Small Business Administration’s Small Business of the Year Award National Award by the Women’s Business Center.
Their mission is to serve God by serving the country, customers, coworkers, and community with excellence and integrity.
YOUTH ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Joshua Wortham, general manager of Peaceful Pastries & Sweets. Awarded to a school-age entrepreneur, in K-12, who has
started their entrepreneurial journey and business at a young age and is working toward their dream.
“I am a 14-year-old chef who enjoys baking people happy,” Wortham said. “As my bakery continues to grow, I’m even more convinced that entrepreneurs should continue to learn new skills, but also stretch their minds and hearts through collaboration and immersion in the community.”
ENTREPRENEUR CHAMPION OF THE YEAR – Joe Newberry, president/CEO of Redstone Federal Credit Union. Awarded to an individual who has a proven track record of championing for the entrepreneurial journey. This can be through volunteering, mentoring, investing, or collaborating.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Mel Bowers, Mel B Enterprises. This award was determined by social media and overall community popularity.
“Being an entrepreneur has been a great adventure for me,” Bowers said. “Knowing that I set my own pace, create my own path, and that my future is extraordinary. I won’t make excuses, and never will I shun my hard days, they are what made me who I am. There are no limits to what I can achieve.”