Garden Fresh Gourmet Salsa Inc. Accepts New Honors as a “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” Winner Business Endorsement Compliments 105 Product Awards Since 2000

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America's #1 award winning fresh salsa maker earns prestigious endorsement from regional business authorities for innovation, robust growth

Garden Fresh Gourmet Salsa Inc., already America’s #1 award winning fresh salsa maker, has been recognized by regional business authorities as one of the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” an awards program sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and the U.S. Small Business Administration, among others.

Garden Fresh Gourmet executives received the honor at the second annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event April 19 in East Lansing, where Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm congratulated the winners.

Garden Fresh Gourmet (http://www.gardenfreshgourmet.com) is America’s largest fresh all-natural salsa producer, shipping nearly one million pints of refrigerated salsa each month plus fresh guacamole, dips and chips to grocery retailers in 35 states and Canada. Garden Fresh Gourmet salsa is artfully produced in micro batches using only the best, freshest ingredients and innovative packaging procedures for an extended shelf life.

The company has rocketed to more than $20 million in annual sales since founders Jack and Annette Aronson began making salsa in 1997 in the back of their Ferndale restaurant. Customer demand for its breakthrough flavor profile led to increased production and eventual widespread distribution, which now extends all the way to the salsa motherland in California.

“We’re thrilled to be endorsed in our home state for our innovation, growth and potential, like we’ve been robustly supported by our customers and repeatedly recognized by the food industry for our product excellence,” said Jack Aronson, Garden Fresh Gourmet president. “The Michigan 50 honor is a nice compliment to the 105 national awards we’ve won since 2000. Clearly, Michigan is a great place to do business and can be an incubator for companies to become national enterprises.”

Nominees to the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list must be second-stage companies, defined as employing 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

"Michigan 50 Companies to Watch is a unique awards program designed to shine the spotlight on second-stage companies” like Garden Fresh, says Edward Lowe Foundation Executive Director Mark Lange.

“Startup companies and large corporations often garner attention for their achievements,” says Lange. “But growing second-stage enterprises work mostly behind the scenes, even though they generate the bulk of new, sustainable jobs and are a powerful economic force underpinning the high quality of life most Americans enjoy.”

The Edward Lowe Foundation is a not-for-profit operating foundation based in Michigan. Its mission is to champion the entrepreneurial spirit by helping second-stage entrepreneurs learn from each other.

In addition to the foundation, winners were selected by representatives of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Small Business Administration-Michigan, and the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, based in part on the winners’ demonstrated intent and capacity to grow based on one or more of the following:

  •     Employee or sales growth.
  •     Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership.
  •     Sustainable competitive advantage.
  •     Other notable factors that showcase the company's success.

    Michigan Celebrates Small Business was underwritten by the

Accident Fund, Clark Hill PLC, Microsoft and National City Corporation. Media partners were Crain’s Detroit Business, the Greater Lansing Business Monthly, MiBizWest/Southwest, MITECHNEWS.com, Traverse City Business News, WJR Radio, Detroit and Business Today WILX-TV10 Lansing-Jackson.

Information about the 2007 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” program can be found at http://edwardlowe.org/Michigan50. The 2007 Michigan Celebrates Small Business event will be held April 19, 2007 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

For more information go to http://www.michigancelebrates.biz or call (800) 362-5461.

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Betsy Erikson