S.F. Chamber of Commerce to hand out Ebbie Awards 

It may not quite be the Emmies or the Oscars, but the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce will pay tribute tonight to top performers at the annual Excellence in Business Awards, or Ebbies.

Startup airline Virgin America and the financial services firm Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) have already been named as winners in their respective categories, while other winners will be announced tonight. Eleven San Francisco companies have been named as finalists in five business categories.

Charles Schwab will be honored with the Excellence in Business Award, and Virgin America will take home the Economic Development Award.

Todd Pawlowski, senior vice president of airports and guest services at Virgin America, said the award recognized the company’s ability to provide jobs. The airline, which began service Aug. 8, is headquartered in Burlingame and has its main hub at San Francisco International Airport.

"We currently have 750 positions on our payroll and we’re growing with each week," said Pawlowski. "Our goal is to have 3000 positions filled in the next five years. We’re excited to have our hub in SFO, and we look forward to establishing a growing relationship between Virgin American and the San Francisco business community."

Other finalists include Beronio Lumber, Pet Camp and the Orchard Garden Hotel, in the Small Business category and Headsets.com, Method Products Inc. and Opentable in the Emerging Growth category. Three building projects — One Rincon Hill, the new Federal Building and The Piers (1½, 3 & 5) — have been named in the Build SF Category, although the award will be accepted by the winning project’s developer.

The Small Business Award will be presented for the first time this year.

"The decision to create the small business category was a reflection of our initiatives to really reengage with the small businesses of this city," said Carol Piasente, vice president of communications at the chamber. "We were looking for companies that contribute to the flavor of San Francisco, and that are involved in the small business community."

Piasente also said that the Chamber of Commerce sought out more businesses displaying progressive environmental policies, such as Pet Camp, a pet boarding company.

Pet Camp, located in the Bayview District, is a certified green business featuring solar power and solar thermal panels. The company also sends dog waste to a biomass plant in Oakland, where it is transformed into methane and used to power turbines.

"I think it shows that in this city you can succeed both economically while still being a responsible environmental steward," said Mark Klaiman, who founded the company with his wife, Virginia Donohue, 10 years ago.

The Excellence in Business Awards will take place at the Hilton at 6 p.m. tonight.

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Will Reisman

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