Three local businesses and one non-profit organization were recognized as winners in their respective categories at the 2015 Small Business Awards Luncheon held today at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, Maner Conference Center. The Small Business Awards event is presented annually by GO Topeka Economic Partnership’s Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development (EMBD) and by the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. The 2015 winners are:
- Emerging Entrepreneur of Distinction: Cashmere Popcorn
- Non-profit Award of Distinction: HCCI
- Minority and Women Business of Distinction: Dog Day Afternoon
- Capital City Business of Distinction: GreatLife, Inc.
Sponsors for the Small Business Awards Luncheon include: Gold Sponsor – Envista Credit Union, Rasmussen College; Media Sponsor - WIBW Channels; Silver Sponsors Capitol Federal, jhP, PTMW, Schendel Lawn Landscape; Bronze Sponsor – Parrish Hotel Corporation.
Brent Boles, Chamber chair said, “We are proud of all of the small business nominees and appreciate the strong contributions they have made to enhance our community’s quality of life through the products and services they provide. We hope their ingenuity, perseverance and success will inspire others to follow suit.”
About the Award Winners
Cashmere Popcorn LLC began in February 2013. Originally Bill and Angie Anderson’s goal was to create a high-quality handcrafted popcorn as a local fundraising option for schools, small groups and organizations. They started in their kitchen, quickly moved to their basement and eventually rented production and storage space at a local incubator kitchen.
In November 2014, they moved into their new space at 1003 SE Quincy, which allowed them to open what they thought would be a small pop-up holiday store. They are now open Thursday 10 –3, Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-3. They hope that Cashmere will soon be known for the gourmet popcorn that is Popped, Flavored and Savored in Topeka, Kansas.
Housing and Credit Counseling (HCCI) assists the community by helping consumers achieve housing and financial goals as well as resolve related difficulties with dignity. Founded in 1972, HCCI is a growing, thriving nonprofit that provides highly acclaimed tenant and landlord, homeownership and credit counseling services. One-on-one counseling is available by phone, in-person or online from HCCI offices in Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan and Emporia. Education programs are offered in schools, for community groups and in partnership with a wide variety of homeless and employment programs.
More than 10,000 Kansans are served annually. New initiatives include establishing a prototype Rural First-time Homebuyer Counseling and Training Program, a pilot program called “Strategies for Success” for Topeka Rescue Mission guests and the Homeless to Housed Program in Lawrence. HCCI developed and hosts the annual HCCI Great Topeka Bed Race on St. Patrick’s Day in collaboration with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
Dog Day Afternoon was established as a home-based business in 1997 by Julie Castaneda. In early 1999, Julie and her husband, Phil, decided to move their tiny operation into a location in which they could expand and grow. In March of that same year, Julie leased a 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse in downtown Topeka. She outgrew that location in less than a year, averaging 40 dogs per day and employing two full-time staff. In March 2000, DDA moved into its current Tenth Street location in southwest Topeka. During the last 15 years, Julie has grown the business to employ a staff of 25 individuals and the business now averages more than 125 dogs per day. New construction has begun on a 9,000 sq. ft. barn to accommodate the current occupancy.
On April 1, 2015, DDA opened a second location on Highway 24 in North Topeka.
Julie works closely with local organizations that provide shelter and other assistance to struggling members of the Topeka Shawnee County community. Agencies like YWCA Center for Safety & Empowerment, Topeka Rescue Mission, Valeo and the VA Hospital call on DDA to provide boarding and veterinary care for pets that belong to clients seeking assistance with personal crises.
The mission of GreatLife is to “enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf and fitness.” GreatLife Golf & Fitness was established in 1985 under the name of J.J. & J., Inc. , beginning with the Lake Perry Country Club. The initial vision of the company was to operate golf courses that provided great golf at affordable rates.
Since that time, GreatLife has added 32 additional golf courses and fitness centers in Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota. It also established the Topeka Sod Farm, which was initially begun to assist GreatLife with improvements to its golf courses. The sod farm has expanded to 300 plus acres and provides sod to golf courses, churches, sporting facilities and landscape companies all over northeast Kansas. The most recent addition to GreatLife is Safari Golf in Topeka. It features a driving range, miniature golf and batting cages and foot golf to the nine-hole par three golf course.