The chamber of commerce will choose winners in four categories, including a top minority-owned business.
By DENIS THERIAULTr
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time since starting the Small Business of the Year awards 16 years ago, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce will honor an outstanding minority-owned business.
The chamber announced the finalists for each of its four awards last week, including its first-ever Minority Small Business of the Year award, which will be given out annually.
"We just wanted to open it up a little more to women and minorities," said Dianne Caton, the chamber's director of special events.
Nominees for the new award include the Butterfly Manor, 660 Third Ave. S, St. Petersburg; J.T.V. Inc., 6571 43rd St. N, Pinellas Park; and Robb Hunter Cigars Inc., 1628 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
Robb Hunter Cigars Inc., known for its "Burning Desire" cigar, is African-American owned, and J.T.V. Inc., which specializes in repairing and cleaning underground utilities, is owned by a woman. The Butterfly Manor is owned by an African-American woman.
The three other chamber awards honor businesses with 25 or fewer employees, more than 26 employees, and Rookie of the Year businesses, which are less than a year old.
Lasting Impressions Home Gallery, 1425 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg; Modern Business Associates, 101 Phillippe Parkway S, Safety Harbor; and Star Graphics Group, 14462 91st Ave. N, Seminole, are up for the 25-or-fewer-employees award.
Capitol Marketing Concepts Inc., One Beach Drive SE, St. Petersburg; Royalaire Mechanical Inc., 8585 115th Ave., Largo; and Sterling Research Group, 600 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg, are finalists for the over-26-employees award.
Harris Professional Vending Inc., 4932 Tangerine Ave., in St. Petersburg; Linen Images Inc., 1928 Second Ave. S, in St. Petersburg; and Telecommunications Specialist Inc., 221 37th St. S in St. Petersburg, will compete for the Rookie of the Year award. To be eligible, businesses must be graduates of the chamber's Entrepreneurial Academy, a program that familiarizes new executives with the business scene while teaching them survival skills.
The chamber used to have an award for businesses with more than 100 employees but replaced it with the minority-owned-business award. Caton said the chamber had been recognizing too many businesses that were not small.
A panel of 10 judges sifted through almost 100 applications looking for businesses showing financial solvency, continued growth, plans to stay local and a commitment to helping the community.
Winners of this year's awards will be announced May 18 at a gala at the Coliseum Ballroom. They can go on to compete for national and state awards during National Small Business Week, May 21-27.
DATE: May 18
TIME: 6 to 9:30 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Coliseum Ballroom, 535 Fourth Ave. N
TICKETS: $45 per person.
RESERVATIONS: (727) 821-4069.