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Tucson Metro Chamber and Wells Fargo are orchestrating an in-person celebration of small businesses in Southern Arizona with the 24th annual Copper Cactus Awards at Casino Del Sol.

Eleven small businesses will be honored on Friday, Oct. 1, with a solid copper trophy to commend their excellence in a specific category, like “Best Place to Work”. Director of communications at Tucson Metro Chamber Heather Wuelpern said the finalists are given increased name recognition in the community through complimentary promotions for the awards ceremony.

“In addition to the finalists or winners benefiting from the Copper Cactus Awards, those in attendance have a fantastic opportunity to hobnob with business leaders and their esteemed staff members,” Wuelpern said.

Last year’s Copper Cactus Awards were celebrated virtually and this year will be adjusted with COVID-19 accommodations such as spaced out tables and readily available hand sanitizer. Event organizers advise unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask.

The event will also feature new dress attire: “Zoom-Formal.” Attendees are encouraged to wear a formal top, casual bottoms and even slippers.

“We want everyone to have fun while we celebrate the amazing businesses in Southern Arizona,” Wuelpern said. “We figured dressing in the ‘mullet of party attire’ will help everyone loosen up, laugh, and enjoy a night out.” 

Local Arizona community members submitted 255 applications for the Copper Cactus Awards categories, which has been whittled down to 33 finalists. 

“This year’s finalists represent such diversity in industry,” Chamber President and CEO Amber Smith said. “It’s an honor for all of us at the Tucson Metro Chamber to recognize our region’s small businesses every year at the Wells Fargo-presented Copper Cactus Awards.” 

The finalists listed below were chosen by 14 judges who scored businesses under different categories. Tucson Metro Chamber added two new categories to the award ceremony: DPR Construction’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion as well as Pima Community College’s Employer/Employee Development.

Eleven  winners will be announced  after a cocktail hour and dinner included in the ticket purchase. There will also be raffle tickets available for $25 each. Winners of the raffle will take home 50% of the pot and the remaining 50% will go to a randomly selected non-profit. 

Nominees 

BEST PLACE TO WORK 

(sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield)

3–50 Employees  

Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Arizona 

The Motive Physical Therapy Specialists 

Onyx Creative, Inc. 

Silverado Technologies 

 

51–200 Employees 

Pain Institute of Southern Arizona 

Premier Auto Management 

 

SMALL BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR 

(sponsored by CopperPoint)

Dr. Richard Austin | Reglagene 

Joshua Belhumeur | BRINK 

Jana Westerbeke | Gadabout SalonSpas 

 

BUSINESS GROWTH (sponsored by Cox Business)

Paragon Space Development Corporation 

Re-Bath 

Solgen Power 

 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY and INCLUSION CHAMPION 

(sponsored by DPR Construction)

Community Investment Corporation 

Hotel McCoy 

ILLUME Advising 

Snell & Wilmer 

 

INNOVATION 

(sponsored by Nextrio)

Avery Therapeutics, Inc. 

Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation 

Startup Tucson 

 

EMPLOYER/EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT 

(sponsored by Pima Community College)

AGM Container Controls 

Cadden Community Management 

Tucson Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program  

 

STARTUP OF THE YEAR 

(sponsored by Tech Parks Arizona)

 FreeFall Aerospace 

SaiOx Inc. 

uPetsia, Inc.  

 

SOCIAL IMPACT (sponsored by Tucson Electric Power)

Revenue up to $500,000 

Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace/Mission Garden 

Greater Tucson Leadership 

Izi Azi Foundation/Felicia’s Farm 

 

Revenue between $500,000–$2M 

ASU Office of Community Health, Engagement, and Resiliency 

Earn to Learn 

YWCA Southern Arizona 

 

Revenue between $2M–$5M 

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona 

Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona 

To sign-up for the event visit tucsonchamber.org/copper-cactus-awards.