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Small business given its due at Chamber gala

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Chamber winner

CASA of the Cheaha Region, a children's advocacy group, accepts the award for Best Non-Profit and also received a $25,000 donation from SAMCO, a local fuel company. Pictured left to right are: Deshae Sharpton, Nabil Mousa, Cassi Del, Cynthia Brown, Laura Miller.

OXFORD  It was a night of laughs and cheers Thursday as the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 18th annual Small Business Awards gala at the Oxford Performing Arts Center.

“These businesses represent a slice of Calhoun County’s finest and we welcome you to celebrate in their achievements,” Chamber Chairman Larry Deason said. “These organizations and individuals were nominated by their customers and members of the public. We feel like every organization presented this evening is a champion in business excellence.”

Deason emphasized small businesses are the “backbone of their communities.”

“If you spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stay in your local economy,” he said.

Co-host Ted Gregerson said another added value of local small businesses is the owners “live, work and take great pride in the community and they give back to their communities.”

“When you shop local, it benefits your community and benefits your own lives,” Gregerson said.

The first honor of the evening was for Non-Profit of the Year, which was presented to CASA of the Cheaha Region.

“The mission of CASA is to be the voice of the children who have been victims of abuse and/or neglect,” Gregerson said. “The mission of CASA is to serve every child in the Cheaha region by providing them with a caring and competent trained volunteer.”

CASA also received a gift of $25,000 from Samco, a local company, to help with the costs of the organization.

Deason presented the Emerging Small Business award to Called Coffee, which qualified for the award by having been in business for less than five years.

“Threse businesses are beginning to make their mark in Calhoun County and are well-positioned to continue to grow over time,” Deason said.

He said the award winner started a relationship with a coffee farmer “and since then sales have grown 100 percent each year.”

“What started as just selling bags of coffee quickly grew into a coffee cart, a coffee truck, and now a coffee shop,” Deason said. “Called Coffee has grown to three full-time employees and three part-time employees. They have plans to add eight additional employees by the end of the year.”

Gregerson presented the Sustaining Small Business award, recognizing a business which has been in existence for more than five years, to Littleton Electric.

“Littleton is a family-owned small business incorporated in 2000,” he said. “They started as a storage unit with three employees. They now have a staff of 40.”

Deason presented the Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Oxford Lumber.

“The award is presented to a business that has set a precedent for an area of success for other small businesses,” he said noting the matriarch of the Newman family, Mildred, remains active in the daily business.

“They have a basic philosophy of putting the customers first and doing whatever it took to meet the customers needs,” Deason said. “Bill Newman, president of Oxford Lumber, carries on that philosophy as the business has expanded to  Jacksonville, Talladega and Roanoke.”

The Larry K. Sylvester Small Business Advocate Award recognizes those who provide assistance and support to small businesses.

Gregerson presented the honor to Main Street Anniston, saying the group “strives to revitalize historic Anniston by enacting a Main Street four-point approach that is design, organization, community and economic vitality,” he said. “Main Street Anniston celebrates, encourages and rewards existing businesses as well as showcasing what downtown has to offer to new prospects looking to relocate here.”

Deason presented the Young Professional of the Year Award to Dalton Goode, co-owner and general manager of Cutter’s Pizza.

“This award defines someone under 40 who uses young, fresh, cutting-edge skills and technologies in their occupational skills,” he said. 

“Dalton earned a degree in economics and political science from Jacksonville State in 2017, then continued his education from Northwest University  earning a master’s degree in public policy and administration in 2019,” Deason said. “He is a community advocate business owner with as strong drive to have a positive impact. He is the true example of someone with a dream who puts it into action. He also takes every opportunity he has to give back to the community that supports him and his business.”

The evening concluded with a visit from the Community Comedy Cabaret, a trio of stand-up comedians Frank King, Glenn Freezman, and Missy Hall.