Friday, June 13, 2008

Celebrate Manatee's small businesses

“It’s all about hard work and family.”
“Never say never.”
“It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”
“This is truly a phenomenal community.”

These were just a few of the many words of wisdom shared at Manatee County Chamber of Commerce’s 29th annual Small Business of the Year Awards luncheon today. The Bradenton Municipal Auditorium was packed with 300 entrepreneurs, all there to honor this year’s best. The event is always one of the most genuine reflections of the honest, hard work that holds our community together -– and this year was no exception.

One strain that was more pronounced today than in years past, however, was a resolve to survive the state of the economy. In her introductions of the finalists and past winners, Chairwoman Tonya Merrill voiced that sentiment strongly, and shared a source of strength from Harriet Beecher Stowe:

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

As if to prove that point, Gus Sokos, owner of Demetrios Pizza House, gave this year’s testimonial on what it meant to him, his family and his business to be the 2007 Small Business of the Year Winner. He told us of how he was a finalist three times before winning. He closed with words we don’t hear very often right now:

“We’ve had our best year yet.”

The Bradenton Herald cosponsors the event with the chamber, and the “thank-yous” flowed back to us from many of the attendees and speakers. (The Herald publishes a special section honoring the winners, which is included in your Saturday newspaper and posted here online. And here is a link to reporter Sara Kennedy's story.)

Joni Korzen, who is director of the chamber's drug-free workplace program and Business Against Narcotics, stopped me on the way out of today’s luncheon -- her favorite business event of the year. She explained it well: “This event defines who we are: still a small community at heart that survives and thrives together.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I own a small business, and was a finalist for this award a few years ago. One thing I would like to see your paper do is not concentrate so much on the big malls and big box stores so much. I realize most of your reporters are fairly young, but there are lots of small businesses that are locally owned where the owner lives here and supports the local schools, churches, and community where the big box stores send their money back to Arkansas or some other area away from here. It gets so frustrating at times to see these reporters ignoring what is under their nose.