Local businesses receive statewide recognition, honors

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Northwest Montana businesses or business people were given the majority of the Small Business Week Awards from the Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration for 2013. 

The awards ceremony will be June 13 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman. 

Local winners are: 

 Inga Lake and Julie Brubaker, Agape Home Care in Kalispell, Small Business Person of the Year with more than 30 employees

 Agapé provides nonmedical in-home care, a growing trend in the health-care industry. Services include respite or relief care, light housekeeping, companionship, nutritional support, medication reminders and personal care such as bathing. 

After Agapé Home Care became a Medicaid provider a few years ago, the company went from 18 caregivers to close to 80 employees currently.

 Rachel Carlyle Edington, Gluten Free Mama Kitchen in Polson, Small Business Person with fewer than 10 employees.

Edington started her business about eight years ago after her youngest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Her business expanded rapidly as the gluten-free lifestyle grew, creating a national customer base for her pancake/waffle, pizza, scone, cookie and pie-crust mixes and almond and coconut flour blends. 

The manufacturing facility has expanded twice to accommodate Gluten Free Mama’s growth.

 Chris Parson, director of the Flathead Valley Community College-based Small Business Development Center, Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award

 Parson advises small businesses at any stage of development, providing assistance with business plans, marketing strategies, financial advice, and leads on federal and state resources. He also teaches noncredit business courses, including a popular Profit Mastery class. 

He estimates he has consulted with at least 600 entrepreneurs in his four years on the job.

 Glacier Bank, Top Performing Lender for Number and Dollar Volume of Loans for 2012.

Glacier Bank, which owns banks in six states and whose headquarters are in Kalispell, offered 70 business loans totaling $12,454,700. 

Other awards went to Bozeman’s Joe Billion of J.C. Billion, Inc., for Overall Small Business Person of the Year; Serena Rundberg of the Nova Cafe in Bozeman for Small Business Person with 10 to 29 employees; and the Montana Community Finance Corporation, for Top Performing Certified Development Company for Number of Loans, with 20 loans for $9,273,000. 

Visit www.sba.gov/mt for more information.

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