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Innovators push the boundaries of the known world. They're change agents who are relentless in making things happen and bringing ideas to execution.
Are there ever days when you think, "Man, a quarter million dollars would go a long way towards making this particular problem go away?"
Thanks to Chase Bank and Google, that thought became a reality for a dozen small-business owners.
The New York City-based bank and Mountain View, Calif.-based tech company teamed up to host the Mission Main Street Grants Program. Each winning small-business applicant receives $250,000 in cash and the opportunity to attend an exclusive marketing workshop at Google's headquarters.
Almost 35,000 small businesses from all 50 states threw their hat in to be considered for the popular contest, and 1.7 million people voted for applying businesses on social media, according to a joint statement from the companies released late yesterday.
The 12 winning businesses were selected by a panel of experts who were looking for an impressive business plan, a manageable growth plan, intense passion from the entrepreneur for his or her business, the realistic likelihood of achieving measurable success in two years and the potential to benefit their local community, the statement says.
"Chase serves more than 4 million American small businesses, so we have a first-hand appreciation of the important role they play in communities across the country," Chase Business Banking CEO Scott Geller said in a statement.
Jon Kaplan, vice president at Google Inc., added, "The 12 grant recipients are a great representation of the incredible businesses all across the country, and we were very impressed by the thousands of businesses that submitted applications."
So who are those lucky winners? Here's a rundown.
ABL Denim. Based in Los Angeles, this premium jeans company makes pants that caters to people with special needs.
Axelo Inc. This Austin-based business develops advanced, highly specialized movement-sensing technologies that are used in military, healthcare and home entertainment applications. For example, a sensor could be put into the helmet of a football player, and from the sidelines, a coach can monitor that athlete's safety in real time.
buzzy4painrelief.com. This Atlanta, Ga.-based business has developed a simple device that makes receiving shots less painful. It's especially popular for kids.
Chemo Beanies. This Covington, La.-based family business makes head covers designed specifically for cancer survivors who are suffering from hair loss during chemotherapy treatment.
Curious Jane. This New York City-based after-school camp makes science fun for girls.
Edibles Rex. Headquartered in Detroit, this business has partnered with local schools to deliver fresh, healthy meals for kids. See a video about Edibles Rex below.
Living Design Studios. This Lafayette, Colo.-based metalwork studio is for craftspeople who make architectural and artisanal pieces. See a video about Living Design Studio below.
Milagros de Mexico. This San Francisco company brings healthy foods and wellness products to the Latino community at affordable prices. See a video about Milagros de Mexico below.
Overnight Success Inc. This Miami-based construction company creates jobs for underserved people on commercial construction projects.
Rolling in Dough Pizza. This Greenport, N.Y., eatery serves wood-fired, brick oven pizza in a restored vintage 1943 International Harvester truck.
Shaktea Kombucha. This Fairfield, Iowa, microbrewery makes organic kombucha and other alternative beverage options that are jam packed with probiotics, which are organisms that promote digestive health.
The Robot Garage. This Birmingham, Mich.-space hosts classes and events where adults and kids can build with Legos. If you build something super neat-o, you can pay for your creation by the pound and bring it home.