May 28, 2024
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South Coast Business & Technology award winners announced

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Established in 1995, the South Coast Business and Technology Awards honor individuals and companies in the Santa Barbara area who have exhibited a passion for ensuring the economic vitality of Santa Barbara County’s South Coast.

Awards include Excellence in Service, Entrepreneur of the Year, Company of the Year, Executive of the Year, Pioneer Award and several Rising Star honorees.

In 2023, Excellence in Service will be awarded to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

“For 40 years, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has quietly set about the noble work of feeding food insecure, low-income residents throughout our region… Nearly 200,000 individuals access food bank services each year,” Chief Development Officer for the Foodbank Alisse Harris told the Business Times.

She noted that during the pandemic that number swelled to more than 235,000.

“The Foodbank distributes about 10 million pounds of food, 40% of which is fresh produce. So, we’re very proud we can do that through our network of 200 or so nonprofit partners in a typical year,” she said.

The Pioneer Award will be going to John Greathouse.

“As an entrepreneur, I’ve never really felt like I had a ‘job.’ Rather, I’ve always felt I was a member of teams of like-minded folks who worked toward the accomplishment of our shared goals. Sharing in the collective satisfaction of my teams’ achievements has always been the most satisfying aspect of my career,” he said.

Executive of the Year will be awarded to Elizabeth Cholawsky of HG Insights, where she has served as the CEO of the company since April 2018.

She told the Business Times that of all the accolades that she has received, this one personally stands “at the top for me.”

“I’ve been in Santa Barbara since 1996 and have gone to every single Scholarship Foundation Awards Ceremony to watch the luminaries in all the categories and have just been in awe of what they’ve done for our community, in terms of the companies they’ve grown and the innovations they’ve brought,” she said. “So, to be in that category, HG Insights, in this realm that I’ve just so admired for so many years, it’s very flattering.”

One of the Rising Star Award recipients, Kate Flynn of Sun & Swell, spoke to her company’s shifting mission to not only provide healthier snacks to the snack food market but also to do so without the burden of single-use plastics.

“You know, the decision to shift towards more of an environmental focus happened right around the time when I was pregnant with our first child. I think there was a realization regarding thinking about what kind of legacy we were leaving behind and what the planet is going to look like for our kids,” she said.

As for the awards, each year, throngs of guests participate in the county’s major networking event, one that frequently draws a crowd of around 700 people to the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

Since 2001, the proceeds from the South Coast Business and Technology Awards have benefited the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, raising nearly $2.7 million, which was then granted to more than 1,000 students.

“The other reason that it’s exciting to get this award is that the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation is such a good organization. And one of my personal nonprofit goals is to contribute as much as I can to the education nonprofits in town,” Cholawsky said.

Company of the Year is going to Goleta-based Yardi.

“Yardi’s motto is ‘Take care of our clients, take care of our employees, take care of our communities, stay focused and grow,’” said Arnold Brier, senior vice president and general counsel.

He acknowledged the commitment to the community Yardi shares both in Santa Barbara and in all their locations around the globe. He considers himself one of the luckiest lawyers to get to work with Yardi and said, “It’s never boring. Our founder, Anant Yardi, really believes that in a technology company, you have to keep innovating or you wither on the vine. So, this company is always innovating, always changing, always adapting.”

Entrepreneur of the Year is being awarded to Guillaume de Zwirek of Artera, formerly known as WELL Health. In his time as CEO, Artera has revolutionized taking the healthcare industry to the modern day, embracing the idea of telehealth.

“I’m not a person who has ever been drawn to recognition. When I started this company, it was about the mission, and it remains that way. So, for me it’s really about delivering value to the market,” he said, acknowledging that the award will provide great validation to the company and the team members who work hard on Artera’s platforms every day.

Other honorees include two other Rising Stars, CrossnoKaye and Parker Clay.

CrossnoKaye is a cloud-based operating system and Parker Clay is a handcrafted leather goods store.

email: mbenn@pacbiztimes.com