Despite the slow economic recovery, Arizona already has many businesses showing impressive growth and even job creation. The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is recognizing 10 of the state’s biggest achievers as finalists for this year’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards.

The awards, now in their 16th year, honor firms for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. Past winners include well-known names like Cold Stone Creamery, Ollie the Trolley and Sundt Construction. Finalists are noted for creating a positive culture both internally and in the community as a whole.

This year’s finalists are:

180 Degrees Automotive, a woman-owned, full-service auto repair center that caters especially to women and minorities. The company has moved to bigger locations four times in six years, provides free car classes to women, hosts an art exhibit, gives free rides home, and leaves a gift in each car with each visit.

CyberMark International, a full-service Internet marketing firm named one of the best in North America by a panel of marketing professionals. CyberMark won a 2011 ethics award from the local Better Business Bureau, offers 24/7 availability for its clients, gives employees flexible hours, and donates service free of charge to several nonprofit organizations.

Daphne’s Headcovers, a novelty golf-club cover business started when the owner was just 16 years old, that once grew 400 percent in just one quarter. Daphne’s now serves fine resorts and golf shops in 75 countries, has covers in the bags of more than 200 touring pro golfers, and offers customers a lifetime guarantee to repair or replace products for free.

GlobalMed, a company that offers telemedicine solutions like innovative cameras, medical devices and software, so health practitioners can provide care to remote patients via telecommunications or satellite. GlobalMed made Inc. Magazine’s 2012 list of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies, and it also made large donations to charity, including the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program.

Hard Dollar, a Scottsdale-based firm that provides software for planning, budgeting and managing big projects in construction, mining and energy. Hard Dollar has more than 200,000 global users, 30-percent year-over-year growth, a company-wide wellness program, and a cost-management system that can increase productivity by 300 percent.

LawLogix Group, a fast-growing provider of immigration, I-9 and E-Verify software. The company boasts a 96.9-percent client-retention rate, low 3-percent employee turnover, a large amount of nonprofit work, and more than 155,000 organizations as customers, including Fortune 500 companies.

NJOY Electronic Cigarettes, a company founded in 2006 that now has a 40-percent share of the electronic cigarette industry, which offers smokers a tobacco-free alternative to traditional cigarettes. The firm sells in most of the nation’s biggest convenience-store chains and offers a recycling program for its products.

Optimal Performance Training, a team of health and fitness professionals started by one man inside a small chiropractor’s office. The company has grown to a large studio, where high school and college Division 1 athletes train, and it promotes a community perspective.

Real Property Management East Valley, a full-service residential property management company that grew to a multi-million dollar business in less than five years. This family-owned firm prides itself on positive client referrals, which have led to about 40 percent of its new growth, as well as involvement with community groups, including the Boy Scouts and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Divers Posse.

Total Transit, a comprehensive mobility management company that runs the Discount Cab brand throughout Arizona. Total Transit has the largest fleet of environmentally friendly Prius cabs in North America and also provides innovative Dial-a-Ride services for Valley Metro and many large Medicaid and Medicare providers, while also donating to the community through its charitable Total Transit Foundation.

Hundreds of Valley entrepreneurs, community leaders, Arizona State University students and others are expected to attend the annual awards luncheon when the winners will be announced Nov. 1 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

These awards are just one focus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business experience. One key program, Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP), matches teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students with Valley companies to help tackle real-world challenges and opportunities. Companies can also use the center to access other ASU business resources. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers to sustain its activities.

For more information on the Spirit of Enterprise Center, visit For sponsorship opportunities or awards luncheon reservations, please call (480) 965-0474 or visit