The Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council will seek applicants through the end of September for possible award contenders. Those chosen to participate will then receive guidance on the application and presentation process from SBA Consultant Doug Hood.
“There are eight or nine different awards for different categories,” Hood said. “The SBA has state, regional and national awards and what we try to do is promote local businesses. And to do that, we need to get people from Bartow County for the entrepreneur of the year award, small business, family business — those sort of awards.
“Mainly, it will be about helping these small-business owners with getting some limelight, getting some exposure — because the main thing is getting customers to walk in the door and buy your product and that’s what it did for us.”
Hood is a SBA consultant, working with banks across the Southeast, but early in his career he was honored as a state and regional SBA award winner. Named the SBA Financial Services Champion of the Year, Hood has been through the process and succeeded in becoming a national finalist. Not only can Hood help coach applicants, but he also can speak to the benefits of pursuing the SBA awards.
“I won the state and regional award and was a finalist for the national Financial Advocate of the Year award. ... It just puts you on a different level. In the ’90s, I was just getting my business started and it gave us some really good press, especially locally, because we won the state award and then the regional award puts you into the national selection process,” Hood said. “Once applicants are chosen, we’ll help the chamber and others to help them prepare their applications for the state award. It’s really great exposure for people in our town.”
Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. is helping spread the word about SBA awards, eager to have a local business on the awards podium.
“The person that would be a good nominee is someone that would be willing to invest some time into it, but it will be to their benefit. They’re going to have to submit business plans, they’re going to have to fill out paperwork, they’re going to have to be interviewed — but their business would be better for it,” Harris said. “We’re trying to find nominees in as many categories as we can that would be quality nominees. But they’re going to have to show confidentially some of their financials, because they’re going to put someone on the national stage to coach other people.
“It’s not just about how many things you volunteered for — you would be the example of a great business that people would study and emulate.”
Areas of evaluation for the 2012 awards included employee growth, sales performance, financial standing, innovation, staying power, response to adversity and community service. Award categories include, Small Business Person Award, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Family-Owned Business of the Year, SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Entrepreneurial Success Award, Financial Services Champion of the Year, Home-Based Business Champion of the Year, Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year and Women in Business Champion of the Year.
To nominate a business or businesses interested in applying can contact Chamber Chief Operations Officer LaDonna Jordan at 770-382-1466 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org before Oct. 1.