By Sharon Still
Guests packed the Crowne Plaza Tampa-East for the recent 2009 Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Awards, an annual recognition gala that celebrates the accomplishments and community commitment of small businesses in the Brandon area. After a record number of nominations, fifteen area businesses were recognized as finalists at the Chamber’s annual event, sponsored by Bank of Tampa. Supporting sponsors included Hanna, Lemar & Morris, P.A., The Crowne Plaza Tampa-East and media sponsor Osprey Observer community newspapers. The evening, led by celebrity emcee Jamie Jacobs, included the announcement of one winner from each of the five categories and a video presentation highlighting each finalist as well as past recipients of this prestigious Chamber award. The 1,800-plus members of the Chamber nominate the businesses which are then divided into categories based on the number of employees or type of business. Judges, volunteers from SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business review the applications and interview the candidates to determine the finalists. The judges make personal visits to the finalists’ places of business, to conclude the judging process and determine the five winners. Award categories include home based businesses, minority and women owned businesses, businesses with 1-5 employees, 6-15 employees and 16 or more employees. This year’s winners include: Cruises For U / Cruise Planners, Home Based Business; Law Offices Of Emma Hemness, P.A., Minority & Women Owned Business; Electric Today, Inc., 1 to 5 Employees; Love’s Tire & Service Center, Inc., 6 to 15 Employees; Brandon Sports & Aquatic Center, 16 Plus Employees. Winners received a gift pack from local small businesses and recognition from the Chamber and community. A Small Business of the Year Special Section is available at the Osprey Observer offices at 900 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. Brandon, and offers profiles, tips and tricks from all 15 finalists of this year’s award as well as a profile of Brandon’s first winner, Dick Stowers in 1982. For more information on this event, visit the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s web site at www.brandonchamber.com or call Jamie Reid at 689-1221, ext. 8843.