MCE's annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award is named in honor of one of our very own local businessman that has that great entrepreneurial spirit – Palmer Gillis! Palmer Gillis, a Salisbury native, has spent the last 37 years building his construction company into the one of the largest general contracting firms on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Along the way, he continues to give back through public service, including as an elected member of the Salisbury City Council, and as a board member for numerous charitable causes and foundations. He has been a leading voice in trying to make his community a better place.

The winner of MCE's Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be someone who has taken the risk of starting their own business, has created jobs, and has a business plan for the future. They have that fighting spirit that refuses to give up. They are sleep deprived and worn down, but ready to take on the world. The business owner must reside in one of the following counties: Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot or Dorchester counties of the Eastern Shore. Nominations are open to the public.

How You Can Help

In recognizing this free spirit, MCE's Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award will come with a monetary prize. The one thing all entrepreneurs need – is capital. Our goal is to grow this award fund over time and reward our annual honorees with a substantial monetary prize. A panel of community leaders will oversee the distribution of the funds, and the selection of the award winners based on a set of established criteria. Encouraging, nurturing and inspiring entrepreneurs is what MCE does best. Now it's time to publicly honor and reward the best of the best, in hopes that we inspire the next generation of great entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Of The Year Winners

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year

2017 Entrepreneur of the year winner

Palmer Gillis Co-Owner Gillis Gilkerson, Jaime Windon winner & Owner of Lyon Distilling in St. Michaels, MD, George Koste-Executive Director MCE, Inc.

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Palmer, Kim Scott, Owner of Great Gourmet in Federalsburg, George.

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

Palmer Gillis, Kelly Jackson Owner of Emily's Produce in Cambridge, MD, George Koste.


2016 Entrepreneur of the Year

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year

Johnny Shockley of Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company was named this year's winner of the 2016 Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Pictured l-r: George Koste, Johnny Shockley, Palmer Gillis.

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Runner Ups

Finalists Bob Hammond Jr. of Atlantic Physical Therapy, Susan Purnell of Kuhn's Jewelers, and Johnny Shockley of Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company.


2015 Award Winner

2015 Entrepreneur of the Year

Chris Eccleston of Delmarva Veteran Builders was named this year's winner of the 2015 Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Chris Eccleston started Delmarva Veteran Builders just three years ago and its growth has exploded.


2014 Award Winner

2014 Enterpreneur of the Year

Kerry Palakanis, a nurse practitioner who opened a health care clinic in Crisfield two years ago, was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Maryland Capital Enterprises at a dinner celebration at Salisbury University.

2014 Enterpreneur of the Year Winners

Jennifer Layton, Layton's Chance Vineyard and Winery and Michael Wilt, Warwick Fulfillment Solutions were finalists; Top Honor takes home $2,000 and finalists awarded $500 each.

2013 Award Winner

2013 Enterpreneur of the Year Winners

Ryan Miller, Owner of: The Deli Restaurant; Last Call Liquors; Café Perdue & Perdue Pantry; R. Miller Properties; and Warehouse Bar

2012 Award Winner

2012 Enterpreneur of the Year Winners

Pete Roskovich (middle), Owner of: Black Diamond Lodge

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominees must be a small business owner or majority partner involved in day-to-day operations of the business
  • Business must be located in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, or Dorchester counties
  • The company must employ 100 employees or less
  • The business must have been established locally for at least two (2) years
  • Must be a for-profit business
  • Business must be in the good standing with the state of Maryland

The award will come with a monetary prize and the winner will be announced at MCE's Annual Awards Banquet!

"We are so grateful to Palmer Gillis and to a team of local business professionals who are helping us make this award a meaningful and important honor," said Joe Morse, President & CEO of MCE. "Encouraging, nurturing and inspiring entrepreneurs is what MCE does best."

To nominate a worthy candidate, please fill out the Nomination Form online or download the Word document located at the bottom of the page. Business owners can nominate themselves by filling out the Application Form. You can fill out the form online or download the Word document at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to attend the banquet or make a donation, please fill out the Table Sponsorship form by clicking the orange button below or download the document at the bottom of the page.

Nomination deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, September 15, 2017.. Number of nominations not a factor.

Please let your candidates know that representatives from MCE will be contacting them to get more information about their business.

If you have any questions or if you want to learn more about the award, please contact Denise Davis at 410-546-1900 or ddavis@marylandcapital.org.


Back to Top