@:Area residents, local merchants and Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce members planning to attend Monday’s 2012 Mel Bedwell Small Business Person of the Year luncheon may purchase tickets through Thursday.
The annual salute to small business, which will include a Business Showcase beginning at 11:30 a.m., will be held at the downtown Museum Center at Five Points. The luncheon starts at noon.
The Business Showcase will provide opportunities for vendors and small business participants to showcase their wares while also providing information and literature about their local operation. Those wishing to sponsor one of these tabletop exhibits should immediately contact Bernadette Douglas, Chamber executive vice president, at 472-6587 or send an email message to email@example.com.
Tickets to the event are available by calling the Chamber office at the same phone number or by registering online at www.clevelandchamber.com through the events calendar. Single tickets are priced at $20. Corporate tables of eight are available at $175.
Alongside a featured keynote address, one of the luncheon’s highlights is the presentation of the Small Business Person of the Year award named in honor of the late Mel Bedwell, a former Cleveland small-business man whose commitment to service, civic pride and dedication to community served as the epitome of that which the award seeks to honor.
According to a media statement provided by the local Chamber, Bedwell “... was known for his energy, determination, ingenuity, honesty, enthusiasm and loyalty, all traits necessary for a successful small business owner.” Bedwell was co-owner with Jack Smith of Cleveland Business Machines.
The Bedwell award recognizes a Cleveland and Bradley County small business based on proven success in six areas: staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales, innovativeness of product or service offered, response to adversity and evidence of contributions to the community.
“This is a time for us to acknowledge the economic contributions of small businesses in Cleveland and Bradley County,” according to Lois Egan, chairman of the Small Business Committee for the local Chamber.
She pointed to the keynote speaker who she stressed will deliver a timely message.
Vicky Gregg, chief executive officer of Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will address the small business group in a presentation that will include topics relevant to local merchants, especially those running small operations.
“We felt that addressing the health care industry would be an appropriate topic for this audience,” Egan said in the Chamber news release.
Prior to becoming CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee — the state’s largest health plan that serves more than 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country — Gregg held several senior leadership positions in the company, including president and chief operating officer, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Volunteer State Health Plan, the company’s Medicaid HMO.
Before joining BlueCross, Gregg worked for a national, publicly traded health plan as market vice president where “... she oversaw operations, strategic development, acquisition and health plan service-area expansion.”
Gregg’s original education and training was as a nurse, and since that time she has accrued 25 years of experience in diverse health care environments, including clinical care, hospital administration, long-term care and health care benefits and financing.
She has served in a variety of high-profile roles following appointments by Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, to the United States National Institutes of Health Commission on Systemic Interoperability in 2004, and later in 2006 when she was appointed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen to the newly created E-Health Advisory Council.
The Frist appointment to the U.S. National Institutes of Health Commission landed her the responsibility of helping to develop a strategy for building a nationwide electronic health records network. Bredesen’s E-Health Advisory Council was a 16-member panel created to make recommendations on how to establish an interoperable health data exchange in Tennessee.
Gregg serves on a variety of health care and health insurance boards.
Her personal honors and awards include Modern Healthcare Top 25 Women in Healthcare, Health Ethics Fellow of the Trust, Vanderbilt School of Nursing Honorary Alumni Award and Business Tennessee’s Most Powerful list. Gregg was named the 2009 Tennessee Woman of Distinction.
Gregg recently announced her retirement as BlueCross BlueShield chief executive officer effective at the end of the year.