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Community to celebrate Small Business Week

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by Michele Skalicky

SBJ Contributing Writer

An outstanding small business will be honored with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce's W. Curtis Strube Small Business of the Year Award May 27, the crowning event of the local celebration of National Small Business Week.

The annual award recognizes a small business that has demonstrated excellence, said Sonja Chasteen, business assistance manager for the chamber.

Anyone can nominate a business, but the nominee must be a member of the Springfield chamber. This year, 38 businesses were nominated, and 21 returned applications.

Five finalists were chosen by a five-member panel of judges, which scored the candidates in six categories staying power, business or management philosophy, response to adversity, product or service offered, community-oriented contributions and any additional information the business owner chose to share with the judges.

While being named the winner is the ultimate goal, Chasteen said every business that is nominated receives recognition and promotion at the W. Curtis Strube Award Luncheon, May 27 at the Clarion Hotel in Springfield.

It's important to recognize the Springfield area's small businesses, Chasteen said, because "so much attention is focused on large businesses and large manufacturers, and very often the small-business person is just taken for granted, and not a lot of thought is given to the fact that they are the backbone of our economy."

She said small businesses make up the majority of businesses in a community and employ more people, so they deserve recognition.

State Sen. Roseanne Bentley will deliver a proclamation at this month's award luncheon in recognition of the award recipient.

In addition to the award itself, the winner will also receive a $500 scholarship for training and development of its employees from Rural Missouri Inc., Chasteen said. The cost for the luncheon is $18.

Also during National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration will give out its annual Small Business of the Year Awards during the SBA/RMI Small Business Week kickoff breakfast May 24. Those winners have already been announced.

The award for Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year will be given to Karl W. Berry, known as Father Moses, owner of Unexpected Joy Publishing Company in Ash Grove.

"Father Moses has consistently promoted minority small-business groups and has kept them informed of the opportunities available in the small-business community," according to a news release from the SBA.

"Father Moses is not only an advocate to minority small-business owners, but also an advocate to the minority community."

The Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year Award is given to individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to support minority entrepreneurship, said Janice Bowman, public affairs assistant for the Springfield Branch of the SBA.

The SBA's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be given to Jeffrey W. Russell, president of Russell Cellular Inc. Russell and his wife opened their business in Springfield six years ago.

Russell has since expanded the business to six offices in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, and they now own the largest Alltel-authorized agency of more than 500 such agencies nationwide.

Russell attributes his success to quality customer service and honesty.

Six Small Business of the Year Award winners are chosen in SBA's western district, which includes Kansas City, Springfield and other communities in the western portion of Missouri. Two of those winners are from the Springfield area, according to Bowman.[[In-content Ad]]

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