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Everyday Biz | Field narrowed for top techies

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Judges have a tough job this year in choosing the region’s top techies for 14th annual Innovator Awards, which will be presented at a luncheon at noon March 19 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

GWATA (the Greater Wenatchee Area Technical Alliance) received two dozen nominations in four award categories. Finalists in two of those categories — Tech Savvy Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year — were announced Tuesday.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait another year for some local tinkerer to invent a device that’ll teleport us directly to Yakima’s Red Lobster restaurant (think Crab & Roasted Garlic Seafood Bake). But lots of other worthy brainiacs and businesses made the cut:

Tech Savvy Business finalists — Biosports Physical Therapy, the muscle healers; North Central Washington ESD, the all-about-schools organization; and Orchard Corset, the ooh-la-la online corset retailer in south Wenatchee.

Entrepreneur of the Year finalists — Melissa Ortega, inventor of an inflatable personal lounger, and her online business Castle and Bay; Tony Freytag, marketing director at Cashmere’s Crunch Pak, the apple-snack company with the whiz-bang social media program; and Roni Hosfeld, owner of D’Olivio, the specialty olive oil store in the Pybus Public Market.

Awards will also be presented for top Future Technology Leaders and Innovative Use of Technology in the Classroom.

To learn more or register for the luncheon, call 661-9000 or visit gwata.org.

Sears in gear at mall

You fans of Diehard, Craftsman and Kenmore brands will give a rousing Roebuck roar upon learning that the reincarnation of Sears in the Wenatchee Valley is now complete.

The new Sears Hometown Store at Wenatchee Valley Mall, which opened last year on Black Friday (Nov. 29), held its official, yep-we’re-back grand opening on Feb. 28. City and company honchos were on hand, including Mayor Steve Lacy and owner Cliff Phillips, of Moses Lake, who owns four other Sears Hometown stores in central Washington.

The new store here fills 10,813 square feet. It fills the vacuum left by the closure in August of the big Sears store, which operated locally for nearly 80 years (first in Wenatchee, then East Wenatchee).

In the accompanying photo, Lacy, at center, cuts the grand-opening ribbon. Also attending (and all smiles) were, from left, Sears District Manager Jim Dignam, store Manager Linda Phillips, store owner Cliff Phillips, and mall Assistant Manager Dan Shaefer.

All’s ducky in Chelan

As promoters, the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce is definitely all it’s quacked up to be.

The group is hosting its very first Rubber Duck Race on May 3 to raise money for nonprofit events and organizations throughout the Chelan area.

It works like this: You and others each fork over some duck bucks ($5) for one of those yellow babies. All the rubber ducks are released from the Woodin Avenue Bridge (in downtown Chelan) and float downstream. The lucky ducky winner receives a $3,500 Lake Chelan vacation package. Definitely something to honk about.

Interested? Then plan to waddle to downtown Chelan for the three-hour duck fest. The race starts at 1 p.m. on May 3.

For more info, call the Chamber at 682-3503.

This weekly column is compiled from “Everyday Business,” a blog by World reporter Mike Irwin. You can reach him at 665-1179 or irwin@wenatcheeworld.com.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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