PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Announcing the Finalists for 2017 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards

On the evening of May 5 at the Biltmore’s Coral Casino, Lynda Weinman, founder of, will ask: “The envelope, please…” and reveal the 11 outstanding women entrepreneurs who will be the recipients of the 2017 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards. The winners were selected from a field of over 100 nominees in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties by independent judges who reside outside the Santa Barbara area, and are not connected with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (SOE) Foundation, the non-profit which hosts this unique event.

“It is exciting for everyone involved,” says Cathy Feldman, Board Chair and CEO of the Foundation. “We had an amazing group of candidates this year, and it was hard for our judges to narrow it down to the top three in each of the categories.”

The 33 finalists will be recognized for their achievements at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner. “These remarkable women have such a variety of enterprises that we think it is important to tell the community about them. In fact, every one of them deserves recognition,” Feldman pointed out.

One recipient was unanimously selected by the Foundation board and announced prior to the Awards for the indelible impact she has made on our community as a woman business owner, tourism pioneer, and early environmentalist: Pamela Webber, who will be honored as the Rock Star: Life Achievement winner for 2017 at the gala dinner. Knowing nothing about tourism, Pamela founded what has now become the Santa Barbara Hotel Group in the 1950s, and grew it into five unique properties: The Inn by the Harbor, Lavender Inn, Best Western Plus Encina Lodge & Suites, Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn, and Brisas del Mar Inn at the Beach.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards will also honor high school and college student winners of SBCC’s Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge competition. Proceeds from the Awards dinner will go toward cash prizes, in the form of seed money, as well as scholarships for the winning student entrepreneurs. Several sponsors also contribute directly to the student awards including Montecito Bank & Trust, Southern California Edison and Bank of the West. This fulfills the Foundation’s mission of supporting entrepreneurship at all levels in the Santa Barbara community.

Prior to the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards dinner, the guests and public are invited to meet all the high school and collegiate finalists from the New Venture Challenge and learn more about their proposed businesses from 5:30-6:30 on the Coral Casino’s patio outside the ballroom at the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Student Startup Showcase.

Tickets are available until May 1 and they can be purchased online by going to HYPERLINK “” and clicking on the Buy Tickets Here button. For more information email HYPERLINK “” or call 805-682-8380.

To arrange interviews with our Finalists (complete list by category follows), SOE Board Members, or Board Chair and CEO of the Foundation, Cathy Feldman, or to request high-resolution photos or collateral, please contact Joni Kelly at 805-886-1869 or


Joni Kelly

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