The Richland Rotary’s 2022 Entrepreneurial Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.
The Entrepreneurial Awards are a Tri-Cities mainstay, beginning in 1996 at the urging of AM Sastry, an employee of PNNL and Richland Rotarian. Sastry approached the club about recognizing the amazing, creative and talented group that are entrepreneurs within the bi-county region. At the time this work was a focus area of the region’s economic development efforts. Today TRIDEC, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities Research District, Fuse SPC and the Port of Benton remain active engaged sponsors selecting the five entrepreneurs and a Sammy Award Winner.
The Sammy is named for Richland Rotarian and Community Godfather, Sam Volpentest – known as Mr. Tri-Cities – who dedicated 48 years of support to economic development of our region and cofounded TRIDEC. The Sam Volpentest Entrepreneurial Leadership Award – Sammy – must be a leader in the community who guides and inspires others, have contributed to entrepreneurship in the community, and is a creative and self-motivated visionary.
Mutant Printing and Promotions
Mutant Printing and Promotions is a family-owned and operated business. The family’s journey with screen printing started in their garage with a retail and fundraising line of tees for cancer patients via their sister business, Snarky Cancer.
STARS Technology Corporation
STARS Technology Corporation is a Richland-based startup helping create a future where low-cost, renewable hydrogen powers the transportation industry and more.
In 2017, Dovetail Joint opened its first mobile kitchen. After spending
2 ½ years scouting for a location while they ran a food truck, Matt and Maren McGowan found the perfect spot at the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. Matt and Maren completely remodeled and updated a slightly worn space, turning it into a beautiful location. They opened at the end of 2019.
Three recent graduates of the Viticulture and Enology Program at Washington State University Tri-Cities own Tirriddis, who create and produce sparkling wine. Tirriddis is committed to sustainability and use green glass and unvarnished labels for its bottles. Tirriddis opened their tasting room in May 2021 in the Prosser Wine & Food Park and have big plans beyond their current tasting room!
Sam Volpentest Entrepreneurial Leadership Award (Sammy Award)
This year’s Sammy Award epitomizes what a true visionary leader is.
This year’s Sammy award winner has been a leader in the community for the past 25 years.
Our Sammy began her career in the nuclear industry, serving as human resources manager during the construction of Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station. In this role, she observed major gaps in workforce readiness among current college graduates and, with the support of technical managers, developed innovative programs to bridge those gaps.
Through that experience, our Sammy became more involved in education through leadership on political initiatives and as an adjunct instructor at Washington State University.
After founding a marketing firm, our Sammy eventually directed her full attention toward social entrepreneurship.
She co-founded and was the first Executive Director of The Children’s Reading Foundation, created a state anti-violence initiative, and served as the Executive Director of Junior Achievement of the Greater Tri-Cities. She led the Junior Achievement team for 17 years before becoming Executive Director at the Washington State STEM Education and Mid-Columbia STEM Network in 2014.
This year’s Sammy recipient has designed award-winning programming, led efforts to raise millions of dollars on behalf of youth initiatives, recruited thousands of volunteers, and engaged broad cross-sector support for equitable opportunities for all young people – especially those furthest from opportunity. Those young Tri-Citians have, in turn, expanded their own opportunities for future careers and success.
Junior Achievement’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed. Junior Achievement’s proven lessons in financial literacy, work and career readiness, and entrepreneurship are shown to positively impact young people’s lives.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Washington State STEM Education Foundation has worked to foster a 100% home-grown STEM workforce.
This is part of the vision of becoming a national model for passionate support for STEM education. When our Sammy joined this organization in 2014, she led the formation of the Mid-Columbia STEM Network, partnering with leaders from business, education, government and community-based organizations across the state.
This year’s Sammy recipient earned an M.B.A. degree from the University of Washington, Foster School of Business. She was named Columbia Basin College Alum of the Year, received the Crystal Apple Award, the Education Alliance Bridge Builders Award, and the SEWASA (Southeast Washington Association of School Administrators) – Outstanding Service to Education Award.