WENATCHEE — GWATA has announced the 14 finalists for its 19th Annual Innovator Awards. The finalists in the five Innovator Award categories were chosen by an independent selection committee comprised of GWATA members with backgrounds in both business and education. The selection committee first reviewed community nominations for over 50 innovators before selecting this year’s finalists.

The Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance will host its Innovator Awards Luncheon on Sept. 25 at the Wenatchee Convention Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The luncheon will honor all 2019 nominees and finalist nominees. The 19th Annual Luncheon is presented by Microsoft, Peoples Bank, Stemilt Growers, and Equilus Capital Partners, LLC.

During the luncheon, awards recognizing local businesses and entrepreneurs will be presented. Peoples Bank will present the award for Entrepreneur of the Year. This award goes to an entrepreneur who has the vision and ability to see a need and fill it. The finalists for Entrepreneur of the Year are:

  • Heath Frazier, Chief Fitness
  • Jeff Soehren, Blue Spirits Distilling
  • Jordan Lindstrom, Scott Ptolemy and Matt Hopkins, Web Guidz

Stemilt Growers will present the award for Innovative Use of Technology in Business. This award is presented to a company, department, or organization that has embraced technology to transform the work environment or created a new technology to benefit an entire industry. The finalists are:

  • Automated Ag Systems
  • FocusGeo
  • Foray Coffee

In addition to the business awards, there are three awards showcasing educators and students. The recipients of each award will receive a scholarship to go towards their education or program materials.

Microsoft will present the award for STEM Champion of the Year. This award is presented to an educator or community member who demonstrates their passion for STEM education and promotes STEM pathways for students through their work. The finalists are:

  • Bob Bauer and Debbie Gallaher, Rocky Reach Discovery Center/Chelan County PUD
  • Dr. Ines Hanrahan, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission
  • Dr. David Bennatt, Wenatchee Valley College

The Apple STEM Network will present the award for STEM College Student Innovator of the Year. The award is given to a post-secondary student enrolled in a college, university or trade school who is demonstrating critical thinking, creativity, and leadership in their studies. The finalists are:

  • Amanda Jeffries, Wenatchee Valley College
  • Ashlynn Burgess, Ashley Heuchert and Reuben Hart, Wenatchee Valley College

Equilus Capital Partners, LLC will present the award for Future Technology Leader of the Year. This award is presented to a K-12 student or students who are demonstrating leadership and innovation through a class project. The finalists are:

  • Megan Clausen and Devyn Smith, Manson High School
  • Miranda Nayak and Ella Gebers, Foothills Middle School
  • Galactic Farmers (Kayleigh Elder, Christine Keeley, Nathan Hinkle, Beth Okamoto, Max Horrell and Kady Murray,  Almira, Coulee, Hartline Middle School

The community can learn more about the finalists and nominees by visiting gwata.org/innovators.

GWATA invites the community to attend the Innovator Awards Luncheon on Sept. 25 to help recognize all of the nominees and finalists, and hear the live announcement of the recipient of each award. Tickets are $55 for the public and $40 for GWATA members. Tickets can be purchased online at gwata.org or by calling 661-9000.

Jenny Rojanasthien is executive director of the Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance.