The Greenville Chamber’s 129th Annual Meeting, presented by TD Bank, was held Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at TD Convention Center, where chamber officials shared 2017 successes and looked ahead to 2018, while honoring those leaders who have made some of the greatest strides toward moving the Upstate forward.
The Honorable Merl Code emceed the event, and attendees heard remarks from Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips, as well as the 2017 board of directors Chair Brenda Thames and 2018 Chair Keith Miller. The Greenville Chamber, now in its 130th year of operation, is the largest business organization in Upstate South Carolina with over 2,100 investors supporting the vision of a globally competitive Upstate economy where businesses succeed and people prosper.
The following awards were presented during the organization’s meeting:
The ATHENA Leadership Award® honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full leadership potential; demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession; and provide valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. The 2017 ATHENA Leadership Award® was presented to Velda Hughes, founder of Hughes Agency, for serving as a leader for women and our community as a whole throughout her career.
The Buck Mickel Leadership Award, sponsored by Duke Energy, honors those who have had a dramatic impact on the community by playing a leadership role in solving critical community issues, strengthening the community, or providing visionary leadership to a major community development project. The 2017 Buck Mickel Leadership Award was awarded to Henry Horowitz for his passionate leadership, vision, and dedication to the arts in South Carolina.
The Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award is given annually to an organization that has shown exemplary efforts toward neighborhood improvement and empowerment. The award is named in honor of former Greenville Mayor Max Heller, who spearheaded numerous efforts over the years to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Greenville County. The 2017 award, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, was presented to Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative, noting especially their multigenerational approach to improving community outcomes through education, employment, and health.
The Minority Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Bank of America, is presented to a local, independently-, and minority-owned company that has been in business for a minimum of three years. The 2017 award was presented to Upstate Home Care Solutions. Founder James Bennett Jr. brings a rare combination of a business mind and a caregiver’s heart to assist clients with nonmedical home care. In just six years, he has grown the company to two Upstate locations with two registered nurses and nearly 100 caregivers.
The 2017 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, was presented to Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery invests in the success of local farmers and artisans, empowers their staff to educate the community on the benefit of buying local, and provides a vibrant gathering space. This is the 41st year in which the Chamber has recognized the spirit of entrepreneurship by presenting the Small Business of the Year Award. Owners Jac Oliver and Mary Walsh accepted the award.
The 2017 Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, was presented to Steven Buckingham, a trial lawyer and mediator in Greenville. His dedication and service to the Chamber has been critical to the revisions of the Chamber’s governance bylaws as well as the Chamber’s Leadership Development programs.
The Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a Leadership Greenville alum who has made outstanding civic and community contributions. The 2017 award, sponsored by Hughes Agency, was presented to Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 34. Richardson-Moore has served as pastor and director of Triune Mercy Center for 12 years, where she welcomes a diverse population from homeless to wealthy parishioners. In this role, she strives to give a voice to all members of our community.
The Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Michelin, is designed to recognize an individual between the ages of 22 and 39 for his or her involvement in the community. The 2017 award was presented to Ryan Johnston, executive vice president of Community Journals, publisher of the Upstate Business Journal, and managing director of 6AM City LLC for his leadership in the creation of several Upstate publications as well as his dedication to the revitalization of the Village of West Greenville.
The 2017 F. Ben Haskew Collaboration Award, sponsored by Furman University, first presented to former Chamber CEO Ben Haskew in 2016, recognizes Upstate leaders who display progressive visions and a partnership approach to responsible growth in the Upstate. The 2017 award was presented to Nancy Whitworth, deputy city manager and director of economic development for the City of Greenville. In this role, Nancy has had a great impact on our community and was recognized for her collaborative vision at the helm of Greenville’s continual transformation.