Award Criteria

The winner receives $50,000 in cash courtesy of Mesirow Financial and The PrivateBank, as well as valuable business consulting services from the Chicagoland Chamber.

Qualified applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Operate within the six-county Chicagoland metropolitan area
  • Be in business for a minimum of two years
  • Demonstrate substantial growth over the past two years
  • Generate revenues of at least $500,000 but less than $10 million
  • Have five or more employees
  • Be active in local civic or philanthropic initiatives


Previous Winners:   

2016 | Sophie Evanoff
President, Vanille

2015 | Neil Byers
Owner, Horse Thief Hollow 


2014 | John Roa
Founder and CEO, ÄKTA

2013 | Jim Alvarez
Founder, Gesture 

About Jim Tyree

During his tenure as CEO, Jim Tyree led Mesirow Financial to exceptional levels of growth in all areas of the business. Among the 50 acquisitions completed during that time are firms such as Stein & Company, a premier real estate organization; Near North Insurance Brokerage's Chicago office and Dann Insurance, two leading insurance agencies; and the U.S. Corporate Recovery practice from KPMG. 

Throughout his career, Jim served on more than 50 corporate, civic and not-for-profit boards of directors. He also served as chairman of Sun-Times Media Holdings, a media firm that publishes 58 newspapers and corresponding websites, including The Chicago Sun-Times. In 2007, he was appointed to the board of PrivateBancorp, Inc., a publicly held commercial bank.

Jim served as Chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce from 2007-2010.