Two woman look at the screen of a tablet. The woman on the left leans on a pile of shoe boxes stacked on a worktable. In the background are shelves of fabric and bulletin boards covered in papers.
Is your small business outstanding in its field and supportive of your community? Apply for the 2021 Dream Big Awards now! — Getty Images/Jovanmandic

Throughout the pandemic, many small businesses have found new opportunities to pivot and thrive in the face of adversity, all while serving their communities. If this sounds like you, you just might be a 2021 Dream Big Award winner.

The Dream Big program is an annual initiative by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that recognizes small business owners across the country who are doing extraordinary things.

This year, we’ll be giving out a $25,000 cash prize to the Small Business of the Year Award winner, along with eight special Business Achievement Awards, in partnership with our presenting sponsor, Spectrum Reach.

Applications are officially open now through July 16, 2021. Here’s what you need to know about the application process and the different Business Achievement Awards we’ll be presenting this year.

How to apply for the 2021 Dream Big Awards

The Small Business of the Year Award recognizes a small business that exemplifies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and individual initiative. To be considered for this award, you must be a U.S.-based, for-profit business that has been operating for at least one (1) year. You must also have fewer than 250 employees or gross revenues of less than $20 million in 2019 and 2020.

Eligible small business owners can begin the application process by clicking on our Dream Big registration page. You can also be nominated for the awards program by a local Chamber of Commerce or trade organization. If you apply early, you may edit your entry any time up until the application deadline.

[Read more: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Big Dream Award Winners 2020]

The Small Business of the Year Award recognizes a small business that exemplifies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and individual initiative.

2021 Dream Big Business Achievement Awards

While all applicants will be considered for the Small Business of the Year Award, business owners may also apply for up to two special Business Achievement Awards.

This year, we’re introducing a new LGBTQ-Owned Business category. This award will honor a small business that is at least 51% owned and operated by one or more individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ (including transgender and non-binary/gender non-conforming), have attained outstanding business achievement and exemplify the significant contributions made by the LGBTQ-owned businesses in America.

The full list of 2021 Business Achievement Award categories includes:

  1. Emerging Business Achievement Award: Open to businesses with fewer than 25 employees and operating for one to three years.
  2. Green/Sustainable Business Achievement Award: Open to businesses that have created and implemented sustainable business practices that limit the company’s environmental impact.
  3. Minority-Owned Business Achievement Award (Sponsored by MetLife): Open to businesses at least 51% owned and operated by one or more minority individuals, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and South Asian Americans.
  4. LGBTQ-Owned Business Achievement Award: Open to businesses at least 51% owned and operated by one or more individual(s) who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
  5. Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award: Open to businesses at least 51% owned and operated by one or more individuals who served in the United States Armed Forces.
  6. Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award: Open to businesses at least 51% woman-owned and operated.
  7. Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award: Open to businesses with one or more founders between the ages of 14 and 30 (as of Dec. 31, 2021).
  8. Community Support and Leadership Award: Open to businesses that have demonstrated an exemplary level of leadership and community engagement to assist the needs of its community, customers, employees and neighbors.

You can learn more about each of these awards and their eligibility requirements here.

What do Dream Big Award winners receive?

All 2021 Dream Big Award winners, including the eight Business Achievement Award recipients, will receive:

  • A one-year paid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Membership ($250 value).
  • Recognition and award presentation during the 2021 Dream Big ceremony.
  • A web sticker to display on their company website.

The applicant selected as the Small Business of the Year winner will also receive a $25,000 cash prize and the creation of a one-minute promotional video played during the annual award ceremony.

Learn more about last year’s winners here, or begin your application for the 2021 Dream Big Awards on the program landing page.

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Published April 27, 2021