THATCHER—Some of the finest women in Graham and Greenlee counties were in attendance last week at the 2019 Gila Valley Small Business Woman of the Year Awards.
The Gherald L. Hoopes Jr. Activities Center at Eastern Arizona College hosted the event that saw 19 nominees and other personages assemble to celebrate the best the Valley has to offer in commerce and community. This year marks the seventh of celebrating local female entrepreneurs. October is also National Women’s Small Business Month, which coincides with the passage of the 1988 Women’s Business Ownership act by Congress. There are now 12.9 million women-owned businesses in the country, which averages out to 42 percent of all businesses. For its part, to date the Gila Valley Small Business Woman of the Year Awards has given out more than $8,000 worth of prize money to its winners.
The nominees’ introductions opened with words of wisdom from the previous year’s winners. Jenny Howard was the Graham County winner in 2018 and has expanded her businesses on Main Street in Arizona to include Ginaveve’s Market Place and the Main Street Bean. There’s value even in just being a nominee, she told the assembled guests. “People see what you’re doing and you’re getting things right,” she said. “Never stop dreaming.”
Of the nominees this year, 15 were from Graham County. Among them were an assortment of all sorts of inspiring women from different walks of life, and businesses new and old. The win ultimately went to Margo Henrie, of Fizek Fitness in Thatcher. Presenter Reed Richins talked about Henrie and her nearly six years in business, describing her as “nonstop” and “driven and dedicated.”
“Margo’s business was so successful after two years that Fizek Fitness had to expand to accommodate the growing number of women wanting to take advantage of this 24-hour women’s fitness center,” Dr. Janice Lawhorn, a dean at Eastern Arizona College and the evening’s award presenter, said of Henrie’s many accomplishments. “From the beginning, Margo’s vision has been to use fitness, nutrition and community involvement to influence as many lives as possible while creating a sustainable, healthy and engaged community that continues to grow in meaningful and creative directions.”
“I love what I do, but, really, this room is full of amazing women,” Henrie told the audience. “It’s amazing to watch. I’ve been nominated a few times, and I’ve got to see each of you; and as you pull the layers back, I realize you guys are amazing. Thank you for inspiring me.”
It was an amazing night full of amazing women, and there’s no sign of stopping, according to the SBDC’s Charmaine Chidester. “We had a record number of nominations this year, 23 nominations,” she told the Courier. “We will never run out of small business women to recognize, I think. We have really strong representation within our two counties of women who are putting their community first and providing for their family. It’s such an honor to be able to recognize them and share their stories. We hope to continue to do it in the future.”
The grand prize winners took home a $1,000 check, a $500 gift certificate from Double R Communications and a trophy. All nominees took home gift baskets courtesy of the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.