Midwesterners tend to have both a great work ethic and a humility that means they don't like to brag. But they need to put that aside at least once a year, according to Phil Santer, senior vice president and chief of staff for Ann Arbor SPARK, sponsor of the FastTrack Business Awards.
The program, which celebrates Washtenaw County companies that demonstrate consistent year-to-year growth, is now accepting applications through May 1.
"I think some companies are resistant to apply because they don't want to look like they are patting themselves on the back," Santer says. "But the companies that qualify for these awards have achieved a significant milestone and should be rewarded."
To qualify for the awards, public or private companies must be headquartered in Washtenaw County and must have had at least $100,000 in gross revenue in 2014 with an annual average growth of at least 20 percent for the following three years.
Companies self-report their revenue but must provide support documents that are reviewed by CPA firm and FastTrack Awards partner Yeo and Yeo.
Businesses are welcome to apply every year that they qualify, and that means some companies have been named FastTrack winners for several years in a row. Last year, Ann Arbor software firm LLamasoft qualified for the awards for its 10th year in a row.
Santer notes that while many winners have come from high-tech fields, that's just because high-tech companies tend to have that sort of quick growth. However, Washtenaw-based companies in any industry are welcome to apply. Previous winners have come from industries ranging from real estate to manufacturing, Santer says.
The FastTrack Business Awards were formerly part of a larger business awards ceremony, Deals of the Year, but SPARK has been running the awards independently for the last three years.
Last year, the awards ceremony was paired with SPARK's annual meeting. This year, the FastTrack Business Awards ceremony will take place June 14 as part of a series of events including SPARK's annual Tech Trek and a discussion around mobility.
Santer says the awards ceremony has turned out to be a good networking opportunity as well. Speaking of last year's awards ceremony, he says it was "energizing" to see representatives from a variety of industries who wouldn't normally hang out in the same circle mingling at the ceremony.
"It was an opportunity to say, 'Here are people doing great things in your backyard that are not already a part of your network,'" he says.
The application form for the awards ceremony can be found through the Ann Arbor SPARK website.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Doug Coombe courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.