I love July.  I love the warm weather, the weekend barbecues, watching the Seattle Mariners valiantly battle for last place, and because I celebrate another year of being born (it’s the 22nd, in case you’re wondering or are in a shopping mood).

But, I really love this month because I am proud to announce the first winners of the Maury Awards.

I always thought that the Maury Awards should take their rightful place in history, right next to those other guys – Oscar and Tony. The Maury’s honor programs, strategies and ideas that have been successfully implemented in communities all over the country and in some cases, the world. Many are inexpensive to implement and most will have a long-lasting impact on businesses and communities.

So, start the overture and the let the opening credits roll as I announce the 2019 Maury Awards.

When Life Gives You Lemonade Award

This award goes to the National Lemonade Day program. Lemonade Day is a fun, experiential program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate their very own business. Each year, thousands of youth have the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship by setting up their business during their city’s community-wide Lemonade Day. 

Best Part of Waking Up Award

No contest here. This award goes to StartUp Weekend. In just 54 hours, you’ll experience all the highs, lows, fun and pressure that are the essence of life at a startup and get little to no sleep in the process. As you learn how to create a real company, you’ll meet the very best mentors, investors, cofounders and sponsors who stand at the ready to help you get started.

Makers, Dreamers & Doers Award

And the award goes to…  the Maker Faire program. The Maker Movement is a global phenomenon impacting the future of work, product development, education and learning. Part science fair, part county fair and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors. It is the largest celebration of invention, creativity, curiosity and hands-on learning in the country.

Gardening Without Dirt Award

The “Gardening Without Dirt” award goes to Economic Gardening. Economic Gardening is one of the oldest and most successful economic development programs in the country. It is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues and a vibrant local business sector.  Hundreds of companies have participated in this program and have expanded their businesses and helped their communities grow in the process.

Everybody’s Doing It Award

This is an easy one. The award must go to Global Entrepreneurship Week. For one week in November, 170 countries come together to celebrate the inspirers, the idea generators and the drivers of economic growth –  entrepreneurs, innovators and job creators. Countries from around the world will engage in connecting entrepreneurs of all ages with collaborators, mentors and stakeholder groups in order to develop a network of synergistic partners and new opportunities. 

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Award

The winner: Pop-Up Retail. These shops, while small and temporary, are used by entrepreneurs and companies to build interest in a product or service. Pop-ups create a unique environment for small business, erase the blight of a community’s vacant space, and can link students with real-life business experience. Pop-ups are now estimated to be a $50 billion industry.

King of the Jungle Award

It has to go to Local Investment Opportunities Network (LIONS). LIONS are a loosely organized group of people who meet regularly to invest money in their local community. The group will generally consist of individuals who have money to invest and people who may be seeking investors. LIONS are designed to create opportunities for local businesses, individuals and local investors to network and develop informal relationships. These investors can become mentors and cheerleaders for local businesses, helping them move more easily to the next level with their support. A little trivia: The first Local Investing Opportunity Network was formed in Port Townsend.  

Journey of a Thousand Miles Starts With a Single Step Award

It was close, but this has to go to the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). Qualifying companies who are new to exports or entering new markets can get up to $5,000 to offset expenses through this program, which is funded in part by the Small Business Administration and state trade offices. More than 350 companies in Washington State have used export vouchers to offset their exporting expenses and brought home more than $589 million in new export sales with assistance from this popular program. 

I Recognize This Street Award

The winner is Main Street programs. Downtowns are one of the most valuable commodities a community has in growing their economy and supporting entrepreneurs. These exceptional programs have turned around their local economies by investing in locally owned businesses, collaborating with public and private partners and rallying their community members’ support. Main Street has helped over 2,000 communities across the country bring economic vitality back downtown while celebrating their unique character and history.

They Ought to Make a Move Out of This Award

The award goes to Master Your Disaster: Your Readiness, Response and Recovery Guide by Leanne Hackman-Carty. A few self-serving souls wanted my book Noah’s Town: Where Animals Reign to win this award.  But cooler and fairer heads prevailed. I believe that disaster preparation and recovery is the most important issue in the world right now and economic developers need to lead the efforts to plan a response and activate a plan.  This guidebook suggests tips and templates for individuals and communities so that a rapid response will reduce loss of life and excessive costs.

The Unsung Economic Development Hero Award

The most obvious yet best-kept secret winner in economic development are libraries and librarians.  Libraries and librarians are a substantive partner and provide an unrecognized contribution to a community. They help achieve success in ways that may not be measured in jobs or revenues or investments. But they bring a significant contribution to the work of an economic developer with a well-stocked library, a well-trained librarian, an up to date computer system and designated spaces for networking, training, job fairs and local artists exhibits. They are an essential addition to an economic developers toolkit.  Behind every successful economic developer, there should be a librarian in the stacks at 338. 954. *

You may have noticed that none of these awards went to individuals. That said, if you’ve implemented one or more of these programs or are in the process of doing so, you are already a winner! Congratulations!

Cue the music and start the closing credits. This blog has already gone over its scheduled length.

  • Maury (confident that the Maury’s will have a larger audience share than the Tony’s this year)

* Dewey Decimal Numbers for economic development