Sequim Bee Farm, a small, award-winning apiary located in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains, took home the $20,000 grand prize awarded by Kitsap Bank in its 2018 edg3 FUND small business competition.
An oversized ceremonial check was handed over to owners Meg and Buddy DePew at a ceremony Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton.
The Port Angeles farm was selected from a group of five finalists, each of whom gave a pitch before an audience of more than 250 people. In the company’s mission statement, the couple wrote that their business seeks “to provide exceptional honey, raw and natural, to nourish the community, lighten lives with their beeswax candles, and to educate everyone about the honeybee, while protecting and caring for these necessary pollinators.”
The DePews’ presentation and submission were chosen by an independent panel of judges of entrepreneurs, small business owners and venture capital investors.
“Sequim Farm is doing very important work addressing the preservation of the honey bee. We expect great things from them and are pleased to provide them the ‘edg3’ they need to take their business to the next level,” said Tony George, Kitsap Bank’s president and chief operating officer.
The businesses competing for the award were rated based on their commitment to the “triple bottom line” — entrepreneurs dedicated to growing their community economically, socially and environmentally, Kitsap Bank senior vice president Shannon Childs said.
The goal of the annual competition is to recognize small businesses that are not only working hard to make a profit but are also having a positive impact on the community. Sponsors said they received applications from numerous entrepreneurs throughout Western Washington in industries ranging from technology and health products and services to environmental services and food, beverage and agriculture products.
The pool of companies submitting entries was winnowed to 15 semifinalists, and a public vote subsequently helped to determine the five finalists.
At the Nov. 15 event in Bremerton, each presenter was challenged to make the case for why they deserved the $20,000 prize money and how it would be a game-changer for their company, Childs said.
“We are gratified that so many quality companies participated in edg3 FUND,” George said. “We want to congratulate them all for the contributions they are making to their industries and communities.”
Dragonfly Cinema, a Port Orchard independent movie theater, was presented the Community edg3 Award and a $5,000 cash prize. The award goes to a business from among the 15 semifinalists that, in the judges’ opinion, best embodies the spirit of community, based on their submitted application and video.
The theater is owned by Nick and Gabrielle Taylor, who have established the annual Port Orchard Film Festival that takes place each spring in the movie theater. The owners said they reinvest funds back into the community through partnerships with local companies and nonprofit organizations.
The four other finalists were: Compost Manufacturing Alliance of Port Orchard; HandiMaps of Tacoma; Kodama Farm & Food Forest of Chimacum; and Wood Originals of Bremerton.
Edg3 FUND was introduced in 2014 by Kitsap Bank’s Green Team to commemorate Earth Day, Childs said. It has continued as an annual event held during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The competition covers all of Kitsap Bank’s market area in Western Washington and is open to all small businesses.