Entrepreneur Of The Year

Maryland Capital Enterprises annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award is named in honor of one of our very own local business owners that truly embodies that great entrepreneurial spirit! 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 may be sleep-deprived and worn down, but they are 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.

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
  • Businesses must be in good standing with the State of Maryland.

The award comes with a monetary prize and the winner is announced at MCE’s Annual Awards Banquet! As part of the 2021  presentations, there were Two NEW awards given to recognize local entrepreneurs that have shined in the area of workforce development & innovation. Each year we will also choose 2 small business owners to bestow these honors on as well.

“We are so thankful to Palmer & Sandy Gillis and the many local business professionals who have helped us make this award the prestigious honor that it is

 What does MCE & the MCE Women’s Business Center Do?  We Encourage, nurture, and inspire entrepreneurs & help grow small business in MD

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.

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 Dory Hayman at [email protected] or call 410-546-1900 ext., 122.



2022 Entrepreneur of the Year Winner

Windmill Creek Vineyard & Winery

Located just outside Ocean Pines & Berlin, MD Jeanne & Barry Mariner along with their daughter Brittney have created and grown an incredible family owned & family run small business. Literally with their own bare hands they have taken an old family farm with a farmhouse located on the property and created a place that isn’t just a beautiful vineyard & winery ..it’s something truly magical & there is always something going on for everyone …
    Igloo Experience        Dining          Upcoming Events
The best way to tell their story is to give it to you in their words: Click Here to Read More

2022 MCE Workforce Development Award
Bernard Johnson, Owner
Johnson’s Cleaning Service (Cambridge, MD)
2022 Innovator Award Winner
Sophia Christian, Owner
Nori Sushi Bar & Grill ( OCMD)

Maryland Capital Enterprises is pleased to announce that  Windmill Creek Vineyard & Winery has been named the 2022 MCE Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year! Windmill Creek is the 11th recipient of this award, which began in 2012. On October 13th at the 11th Annual MCE Palmer Gillis Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Banquet Mr. Maurice Ames, Executive Director at Maryland Capital Enterprises & Palmer Gillis, CEO Gillis-Gilkerson made the big announcement & presentations, which also included our two newest awards that began in 2021: The Workforce Development Award , presented to Bernard Johnson of Johnson’s Cleaning Service ( Cambridge, MD) & The Innovator Award, presented to Sophia Christian  of Nori Sushi Bar & Grill & Sophia’s Italian Restaurant (Ocean City, MD).

A Very Special Thank You to our Award Sponsors:

Maryland Capital Enterprises would also like to thank our generous sponsors, which include The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World of Dorchester County, Gillis Gilkerson, PNC Bank, Baltimore Business Lending, The Bank of Delmarva, The City of Salisbury, Delmarva Power, The First Shore Federal, Salisbury University’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, Hebron Savings Bank, iHeart Media, M&T Bank, Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development, and Farmers Bank of Willards and Salisbury Independent.

Our Past Winners

2016 Johnny Shockley
Hooper’s Island Oyster Aquaculture

2015 Chris Eccleston
Delmarva Veteran Builders

2014 Dr. Kerry Palakanis
Crisfield Clinic

2013 Ryan Miller
The Deli, Last Call Liquors, R. Miller Properties and The Monkey Barrel

2012 Pete Roskovich
Adam’s the Place for Ribs & Black Diamond Catering


  • Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World logo
  • Baltimore Business Lending logo
  • The Bank of Delmarva logo
  • Gilles Gilkerson logo
  • City of Salisbury Logo
  • Delmarva Power logo
  • Farmers Bank of Willards logo
  • First Shore Federal logo
  • Hebron Savings Bank logo
  • iHeartMEDIA logo
  • M&T Bank logo
  • Franklin P. Perdue School of Business logo
  • PNC logo
  • Salisbury University logo
  • Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development logo