Entries sought for Entrepreneur of the Year awards

Written by ED MERRIMAN, Baker City Herald December 11, 2008 01:18 pm

The Northeast Oregon Economic Development District is seeking nominations for the second-annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

The awards give Baker, Union and Wallowa county residents the chance to recognize entrepreneurs or business owners who have contributed to the vibrancy of the community, said Lisa Dawson, NOEDD executive director.

 “Entrepreneurs add value and vitality to our communities with no guarantee of emotional or monetary payoff,” Dawson said. “We are devoted to offering citizens the opportunity to show their appreciation to entrepreneurs.”

Julie Mullen, project coordinator, said a winner will be chosen from each of the three counties.

Debi Bainter, executive director for the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, said the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year award for Baker County will be presented at the chamber’s Jan. 17 awards banquet, along with legacy awards, Business of the Year and other awards.

“The reason why the chamber is doing it is to be able to recognize a business that’s bringing economic development to Baker County,” Bainter said. “That is what the chamber is supposed to be doing — supporting business.

“From an economic standpoint it made perfect sense for us to get involved and present the award as part of our annual awards banquet,” Bainter said.

She said the chamber staff, Historic baker City Inc., Baker County Marketing Committee and the Baker City/County economic development staff are all part of the team “supporting businesses in Baker County as they develop and grow.”

Bainter said NOEDD handles the nomination and selection process, then turns the names of the winners over to the chamber in each county, which present the awards.

Winners in last year’s inaugural contest were Jeremy Thamert of Oregon Power Solutions in Baker City; Greg Barreto of Barreto Manufacturing in La Grande; and Kathy Shoemaker of The Cougars’ Den in Wallowa.

She said those three entrepreneurs have made important contributions to their communities.

Thamert was recognized for his leadership in attracting equity capital and senior level management to position his company for rapid growth in the alternative energy market.

Barreto was recognized for his vision and dedication. Through the creation of a successful business, Barreto has added wealth to the community.

Shoemaker was recognized for her ability to experiment and adapt products to the demands of the local market, creating an important gathering space in her community.

Nominations for the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year should demonstrate any number of the following entrepreneurial characteristics: own a business no older than two years or expand an existing business; provide new products or services or provide products/services in a way they haven’t been offered previously; be growing a business with new market locations or distribution channels.

Mullen said the award was established in 2007 and the first awards were presented in January 2008.

She said the award provides an opportunity for people in each county “to recognize the entrepreneurs who make our communities a more vibrant place to live.”

“It takes a lot of vision and hard work to be an entrepreneur,” Mullen said. “This is a way to let them know people do notice and appreciate their hard work.”

To nominate an entrepreneur contact Julie Mullen at 541-426-3598 or toll-free at 800-645-9454 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Nominations will be accepted until Jan. 9.

Nominations may also be mailed to Mullen at the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, 101 NE First St., Suite 100, Enterprise, OR 97828.