Regional awards for local business

HANCOCK – Two local businesspeople have now won wider recognition.

Jonathan Julien of LJJ Construction, who was presented with the Regional Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award last week in Lansing, spoke to the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance today. Julie Cortright, owner of Mexican restaurant Habaeros Fresh Mexican Kitchen in Hancock, was presented with Michigan Celebrates Small Business’s Small Business of the Year award for the Upper Peninsula at this morning’s meeting.

Julien had previously won MSCB’s Young Entrepreneur of the year award in April before moving on to the regional content. He said the award was an indication of the success the area has in being able to foster success for fledgling entrepreneurs.

“That was a real honor,” he said. “It’s nice to know that somebody from a small location like Upper Michigan, Houghton can get that kind of award for the Midwest Region. We’re really competing against a lot of big cities, a lot of big corporations, and I think it’s something all of us should be proud of, coming from the Western U.P.”

Julien received the award Thursday night in Lansing, and along with other recipients attended a dinner at Gov. Rick Snyder’s home last Wednesday night.

He enjoyed being able to network with other small business owners.

“It was curious to see that we all had the same idea of where Michigan needs to go,” he said. “What we like about what we’re seeing is that Lansing is focusing less on Detroit and more about what’s good in Michigan. They’re focusing on the western U.P., they’re focusing on the new mining developments that are happening, and they’re focusing on manufacturing.”

Julien also discussed his other ventures. Julien Properties, which owns 126 bedrooms in Houghton and manages 14,000 square feet of commercial space. He’s also a minority owner of a distribution company in California that manufactures surfboards, skateboards and skateboard trucks.

Julien said his goal when he joined the company two years ago was to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. The manufacturing of the metal skateboard trucks has come to Muskegon, creating 10 jobs, he said.

The manufacturing of wooden boards is starting up in Houghton. Julien said six to eight jobs will be created for that work, which will create about 10,000 boards a month.

Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson presented the Small Business of the Year award to Cortright. He said Habaeros, the 10th restaurant in the city, has already boosted the business of the other nine.

“If you talk to the restaurant community in Hancock, they will embrace Habaeros,” he said. “They already have.”

Anderson called the restaurant “the capstone of the revitalization of the Scott Hotel.”

Cortright thanked KEDA, Anderson, Scott Hotel owner Mike Lahti and others for their help in getting the business up and running.

“I’m glad we’re here,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to be in Hancock.”