Lindsay Cates Lindsay Cates
Senior Manager, Communications and Strategy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


September 28, 2021


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Dream Big Awards, presented by Spectrum Reach, celebrate the achievements of small businesses and honors their contributions to America’s economic growth.

One of the nine business achievement award categories is for the best and brightest emerging small businesses. The Emerging Business Achievement Award recognizes a start-up company that has attained outstanding business achievement with fewer than 25 employees and 1-3 years of full-time operation (not a buyout of an existing company). Read more about the three businesses in the running below.

The winner will be announced at the Dream Big Awards Ceremony, part of The Big Week for Small Business virtual event, on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at 5:00pm ET. Learn more about the other Dream Big Award categories and finalists here.

Emerging Business Achievement Finalists:

Aspis, LLC,Kansas City, MO


Aspis, LLC Founder & CEO Jeff Wagner recognized that small to mid-sized businesses often didn’t have the resources for cybersecurity products and services, nor the expertise to operate their information systems securely. As a former cyber expert and Chief Information Security Officer, he is leveraging his experience to help bring cost-effective cybersecurity to smaller organizations through Aspis, LLC.

“When an existing customer complemented the delivery quality of our services and doubled their order, their confidence in our ability to deliver changed the trajectory of our business and gave us the boost we needed to mature from a solopreneur to a company with employees dedicated to delivering the founder’s vision and mission.” - Aspis, LLC

Covered in Cotton, Florence, SC


Covered in Cotton was spun from a vision of Tracy Woodard, a third-generation farmer in South Carolina, to take the cotton grown on the farm through the process of becoming yarn, which is then woven into cotton products. The 100% cotton products are locally grown and crafted exclusively in the Carolinas.

Covered in Cotton’s “Cotton With a Cause” mission donates one cotton blanket to a local children’s hospital for every ten sold, helping to share the story of their son, Tobin, who spent more than a month in the hospital for emergency brain surgery at only three months old.

“Today, our Tobin is a completely healed and healthy six-year-old, and we have the incredible blessing of sharing our story and our hope with other families who are facing a similar hardship with their child in the hospital. To date, we’ve donated over 630 throws to five South Carolina children’s hospitals.” - Tracy Woodard, Founder & Owner, Covered in Cotton

Imperium Data Networks,Tampa, FL


Imperium Data Networks was founded to create long-term change in the IT industry by providing customers with technology products, managed services, and human capital solutions. The business was built locally in Tampa, but has allowed business owners nationally to be able to focus on their core business, while Imperium Data ensures everything is working efficiently.

“Technology products are always going to be evolving, and the true value of Imperium is the customer experience we provide and the company culture we foster.” - Brian Hill, Sales Director, Imperium Data Networks

Register for the Dream Big Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at 5:00pm ET to find out who will be the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business of the Year and win $25,000!

About the authors

Lindsay Cates

Lindsay Cates

Lindsay is a senior manager on the communications and strategy team. She previously worked as a writer and editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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