Riverside Businesses Honored at 11th Annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

(Photo Credit: InlandSpiritAwards.com)

With a sell-out crowd of 610 people in attendance and special entertainment, Inland Spirit Awards kicked off its 11th Annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards on November 19, 2013 at the Ontario Convention Center.

This year the Spirit of the Entrepreneur organizers received 162 nominations and narrowed the selection down to 26 finalists in nine categories from which emerged the nine award recipients recognized for their achievements and celebrated for the Art of Entrepreneurship. To view the full list of 2013 Inland Empire Entrepreneurial Finalists, click here.

The Spirit of the Entrepreneur awards helps attract more business investment to the region to help ignite the economic recovery, said Tomas Morales, president of Cal State San Bernardino.

 “It serves as a venue to showcase the region’s most successful entrepreneurs,” Morales said. “By highlighting our homegrown entrepreneurial talent — talent that is quite remarkable — we can make a stronger case to attract that much-needed investment, which is a fundamental component of healthy, economically vibrant communities.”

Throughout the evening Brian Olsen fascinated the audience with his unique “Art in Action” and paintings of famous figures Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King, Jr. Each painting reinforced the creativity and innovation necessary to be an entrepreneur.

Of the nine award categories, Riverside entrepreneurs were nominated in two: Joan Nguyen, founder of MeriEducation for Small Enterprise and Drew Jorgenson founder of OmniPlatform for Technology Entrepreneur. MeriEducation was the recipient of the 2013 Award for Small Enterprise.

Joan Nguyen, 2013 Small Enterprise Award Winner and Founder of MeriEducation (Photo Credit: InlandSpiritAwards.com)

From Nguyen’s bio on the MeriEducation website: After graduating summa cum laude from the University of California educational system, Joan Nguyen, who was a three-time Chancellor’s Distinction Award recipient, started MeriEducation in 2008 as an alternative to the cookie-cutter educational programs that exist. At 21 and with only $3,000 in personal savings, Nguyen started what is now MeriEducation. Nguyen strives to demonstrate that any young individual, especially a young woman, can start a business with practically nothing. To learn more about MeriEducation visit MeriEducation.com.

Check back for a future Business Spotlight article featuring MeriEducation in an upcoming issue of the Office of Economic Development newsletter. Click here to learn more about the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award Finalists.