From a field of 16 nominees, five finalists have been selected for the 2014 Aroostook Entrepreneur of the Year award sponsored by LEADers Encouraging Aroostook Development, Momentum Aroostook, University of Maine Fort Kent, Northern Maine Community College, University of Maine Presque Isle and Husson University.

Christopher Robbins

The finalists will be honored and a winner announced at an awards dinner Thursday, May 22, at Northern Maine Community College.

The finalists are, in alphabetical order of business, Cam Manufacturing in Presque Isle, owners Marc Brown and Mark Jones; Mike’s Family Market (Limestone) and Mike’s Quick Stop (Caribou), owner Michael Cyr; Northern Prosthetics in Presque Isle, owner Cory LaPlante; Northern Turf  Management in Van Buren; owner Patrick Vaillancourt; and Valley Motors/Pelletier Ford in Fort Kent, owner Steven Pelletier.

Cam Manufacturing is a precision metals manufacturing and machining and tooling company, which employs about 10 in the Presque Isle Industrial Park. The company, which has been in business for 13 years, has continued to expand its customer base and facilities footprint over the years.

Michael Cyr employs about 24 people at his two retail establishments in Limestone and Caribou, generating approximately $300,000 in payroll. Cyr has also been active in different community organizations and is currently the president of the Limestone Rotary Club.

Cory LaPlante started Northern Prosthetics in 1997. At the start, he was the only employee. Now the staff has grown to nine full-time and two part-time employees. In 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration named LaPlante Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maine and New England.

Patrick Vaillancourt is the youngest entrepreneur among the finalists. When he was only 16, he started a lawn maintenance business, which eventually evolved into Northern Turf Management. Just three years removed from giving the salutatorian speech at Van Buren District High School, Valliancourt is a junior in college majoring in Environmental Horticulture and Business, while continuing to run a thriving business.

Steven Pelletier has gone from the forestry industry to the automobile industry with great success. According to those who nominated him for the award, “Steve’s goal has always been to keep business local and support the community. That can been seen with Pelletier Ford now the third-ranked dealership in Maine, growing sales from 60 units per year in 2012 to 271 new Ford vehicles sold in 2013. Pelletier also purchased the local General Motors Corp. dealership after a devastating fire and rebuilt the facility and renamed it Valley Motors.

Also nominated this year were The Acadian Restaurant, Inn of Acadia, Fiddlehead Focus, Burger Boy, Caldwell’s Auto LLC, RLW Management Company, Pancsofar’s Bridal Boutique, Gateway Hospitality LLC, Third Eye Global, Store on Sugar Shack Road and Virtual Managed Solution LLC.

A panel of seven judges, one representing each of the sponsors, LEAD and Momentum Aroostook, and the supporting organizations, Husson University, Northern Maine Community College, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the 2013 Aroostook Entrepreneur winner David Harbison of Bison Pumps, selected the 2014 finalists.

The nominees, finalists and winner will be celebrated May 22 at the Edmunds Conference Center at Northern Maine Community College. The Aroostook Entrepreneur of the Year dinner will feature local produce, products and highlight the cultural diversity of the region. There will also be a vegetarian option. Prior to the meal and program, a social hour with hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. The price per person is $35. Pre-registration is required by 4 p.m. May 16. To register, contact Judy Dinsmore at Northern Maine Development Commission, 498-8736 or by email, jdinsmore@nmdc.org.