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2017 Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award Recipients Announced

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The 15th Annual California State University, San Bernardino, Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship Awards at the Riverside Convention Center on November 14, 2017. Photo by Rodrigo Pena Photography.

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The region’s top business leaders were recognized at the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship’s 15th annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards banquet on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Riverside Convention Center.

The annual black-tie gala recognizes the leadership, innovation and business acumen of successful local entrepreneurs. A record 900 business and community leaders from across the region attended the event for an evening of networking and incredible entertainment by performance painter Gregory Adamson.

“The Spirit of the Entrepreneur is one the region’s top events for our business community and this year’s gala surpassed all our expectations, said Michael Stull, founder of the event, director of the IECE and a professor of entrepreneurship at Cal State San Bernardino, where the center is housed. “This year’s winners reflect the outstanding and innovative abilities of the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Michael Fox, of Fox Transportation in Rancho Cucamonga, was named the top entrepreneur and received the Best of the Best Award. Fox had been honored earlier with the general entrepreneur award.

The other honorees were:

  • Eco Entrepreneur: Roy Dann, Cal Micro Recycling, Ontario
  • Family Business Entrepreneur: Janet Steiner, Thoro Packaging, Corona
  • Healthcare Entrepreneur: Michael Rappaport, Marketplace Physical Therapy and Wellness Center, Riverside
  • Manufacturing Entrepreneur: Loren Hanson and Dave Haffter, Fusion Sign and Design, Riverside
  • Service-Based Entrepreneur: Chet Hitt, Sunset Hills Family of Mortuaries, Apple Valley
  • Small/Emerging Enterprise: Brad Trevithick, The Goat and Vine, Temecula
  • Social Entrepreneur: Dr. Frederick Axelrod, LifeStream, San Bernardino

The finalists and award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges consisting of past Spirit Award recipients. The 27 finalists represent the culmination of a nomination and evaluation process that included 194 nominees.

The gala also featured the Garner Holt Student Fast Pitch Competition, where five CSUSB student entrepreneurs each delivered a 90-second pitch about their up-and-coming venture idea to the audience, and were critiqued on their overall preparation, poise and professional presentation.

The top three finishers, their product or service pitches, and their prizes were:

  • Henessey Soto, Balmstrips, $4,000
  • Mai Tamraz, Lily Pads, $2,000
  • Lisa Tucker, Sci-Art Camp, $1,000

The fast pitch, which involves students from Cal State San Bernardino, is sponsored by local entrepreneur Garner Holt of San Bernardino. Holt’s company, Garner Holt Productions, is the world’s leading manufacturer of animatronics and animatronic figures.

Photos of the winners may be viewed at the “2017 Award Recipients” web page.

About the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship

Located on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino, the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) was recently recognized as a Top 35 Global Business School for Fostering Entrepreneurship by AACSB International. IECE offers a wide range of programs and services including academic programs that lead to business degrees in entrepreneurship for undergraduate and graduate students as well as delivering experiential learning and student support programs such as the Fast Pitch Competition. In the local community, IECE offers existing and aspiring entrepreneurs a wide array of business advisory and mentoring services, student internship and consulting resources, and entrepreneurial training programs that help them achieve greater levels of success in their business ventures.

Visit the IECE website for more information.

About Cal State San Bernardino

California State University, San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in Inland Southern California. Opened in 1965 and set at the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, the university serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. The university offers more than 70 traditional baccalaureate and master’s degree programs, education credential and certificate programs, and a doctorate program in educational leadership. Every one of its academic programs that is eligible has earned national accreditation. CSUSB reflects the dynamic diversity of the region and has the most diverse student population of any university in the Inland Empire. More than 80 percent of those who graduate are the first in their families to do so.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

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