Norwalk Economical Development Corp. (NEDC) Assistant Director Nick Smith said that’s the reason the organization chose to do more than recognize strong, existing businesses making a difference in the community.
“It is the entrepreneurs and their activity that is the critical determinant for the level of success, prosperity, growth and opportunity in any economy,” he said.
In addition to its annual Innovation and Gold Maple awards, NEDC introduced a new accolade at Thursday night’s networking and award ceremony — the NEDC Rising Entrepreneur.
BA Marketing Solutions and its owner, Meg Corso, were named the first recipient for displaying the “right attitude, determination and grit to succeed,” Smith said. The business saw “substantial” growth and created several new jobs in the community in its first year of business.
These were the epitome of what the NEDC wanted to promote for new and upcoming businesses, Smith added.
“We looked at our focus in 2018 and we really wanted to nurture start-ups and entrepreneurs,” director Heather Horowitz said. “We really feel like that was a missing piece in the past. We feel like that’s one of the ways when you look at the economy, that you can grow it — with start-ups and entrepreneurs.”
Corso said the success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of NEDC. She started BA Marketing after finishing the BGSU Firelands visual communication program. Corso said the organization helped her reconstruct her business plan “and ever since then I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth.”
She attributes her business’s success to that assistance and pouring her life and all of her passion into the business.
“It’s a very humbling experience and very motivational for me to receive an award like this,” Corso said.
“I think the most important people to thank are all the people that I’ve worked with in the last 15 years of my life, from being a bartender and server, a restaurant manager, car dealership salesman. I’ve literally learned so much from every single person … I’ve worked with,” she added. “The people (who) give you the time of day and that are there to guide you are just absolutely invaluable and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”
NEDC gave out three other awards Thursday.
Firelands Local LLC and CLI Inc. was the recipient of the Innovative Award.
Horowitz said the winner is chosen for having “created something that is completely unique, whether it’s a program or project or a new business endeavor which will enhance the community” — something the NEDC said CLI did with 16W, its Seminary Street and recent Kenilee Lanes projects.
Both the Fabriweld and David Price Metal Services and Firelands Chevrolet Buick received the Golden Maple Awards.
This was the NEDC’s 15th year recognizing companies with the Golden Maple Award. The honor is given to a company that made a significant investment in the community’s economy over the past year — from capital investments, jobs created or facilities built.