It is time for the fourth annual TSBDC Rising Star Awards ceremony, and this year’s prestigious honor will be presented at a special breakfast scheduled from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The festive occasion will be held at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce offices located at 225 Keith St. SE in The Village Green.
For those unfamiliar with the Rising Star, it is one of the most fitting honors imaginable for a small business. And it comes with good reason. Small businesses across America account for 70 percent of this country’s Gross National Product. This is no small feat when considering the vast number of major corporations, manufacturers and professional services that provide much of the gusto to the U.S. free enterprise system.
Yet, it is small business that accounts for the vast majority.
It might surprise some, but not organizations like TSBDC that make it a practice of knowing the numbers. That’s because the Cleveland site of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center operates on a mission; that being, to work closely with small businesses, both new and existing.
Last year’s recipient of the Rising Star Award understands the value of the TSBDC. He is Greg Hicks, chef and owner of Impressions Catering. Like many small businesses, his was plundered by the country’s financial meltdown that began in 2008 with the banking and financial institution crisis. In a domino effect, more and more sectors felt the maddening impact of the start of The Great Recession, an historic crash in the U.S. economy that four years later continues to take its toll on households, governments and businesses — both large and small.
When the financial crunch pummeled Impressions Catering, Hicks wanted to give up and give in. But he did neither. Instead, like a “Rising Star” he rose to the next level by seeking the TSBDC’s assistance. Working together, mentor and student devised a strategy and worked the plan.
Hicks learned to understand his financial strengths and weaknesses. He developed an outline for pursuing his niche markets. He identified where they could be found and who they were. He implemented solid, consistent procedures that helped to run his business along the way.
It was a tough, 1 1/2-year voyage. But he persevered. He stayed the course. And he grew his business. Impressions Catering became a success story and Hicks was recognized for his commitment by becoming the third recipient of the TSBDC Rising Star Award.
And now, the fourth will be named Tuesday morning. We do not know the person’s identity, nor do those who will attend the breakfast.
But we know this. The Rising Star Award is given to area businesses based on phenomenal growth, completion of TSBDC programs, community involvement and partnerships with area school systems and the Chamber of Commerce. The honor is presented to those who have risen above the chaos and given back in return.
Not only does The Rising Star lead to an award, it gives the proud recipient a chance to shine. And it points to the significant impact of the TSBDC.
We ask no one to believe us. Just look at the numbers. This year’s TSBDC clients already have invested $13 million back into the community, and they have created 139 new jobs.
That’s reason enough to shine.
That’s ample proof that amidst America’s continuing economic struggles, a few Rising Stars will light our way today, tomorrow and beyond.