The Tulsa Regional Chamber honored seven local companies today at the sixth annual Tulsa Small Business Summit. Hundreds of area professionals attend the summit each year, making it northeast Oklahoma’s premier small business event. The half-day summit is produced annually by the Tulsa Small Business Connection, a Tulsa Regional Chamber program that educates and empowers businesses with 50 employees or fewer.
Nominees go through an extensive application process judged by local small business resource partners. Winners are recognized for the impact they make in their industries and their communities.
“Small businesses are integral to our regional economy, creating two out of every three jobs,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “It’s an honor to recognize these local business owners for their significant economic impact.”
The following individuals and organizations were honored at the event.
Small Business Person of the Year: Lisa Riley, Pinot’s Palette Northeast Oklahoma Studios
Rising Star (Young Entrepreneur of the Year): Jeri Barrientos, First Mate Financial Advisors
Entrepreneurial Success: Cole Cunningham and Hershel Self, Mythic Press
Manufacturer of the Year: Bill Solomon, Vacuworx
Veteran Business Champion: Volunteers of America
Pioneer Award: James Shirley, James Shirley Management Consultants
Lifetime Achievement Award: Tulsa World Media Company
The Tulsa Small Business Connection’s mission is to educate, empower and expand small business in northeast Oklahoma, accomplished through year-round events and resources for small business owners and their employees.
“The Connection provides business owners with the knowledge, network and resources to be successful,” said Colleen Almeida Smith, executive director of the Tulsa Small Business Connection. “Our goal is to bring business owners and entrepreneurs together to learn from one another and strengthen our regional business community.”
In addition to the awards ceremony, the event featured keynote speakers Shelley Brander, founder and CEO of Loops Productions, and Stacy Brown, founder of the fast-casual restaurant chain Chicken Salad Chick. Local small business experts led breakout sessions on topics such as branding, hiring practices, and diversity and inclusion.
“The summit is the only event of its kind in our region,” said Angela Byers, CEO and founder of Byers Creative and chair of the Tulsa Small Business Connection. “Northeast Oklahoma is home to so many outstanding small businesses, and this event provides the opportunity to learn and grow from people who have overcome the same challenges your business may be facing.”
About the Tulsa Regional Chamber
Established in 1903, the Tulsa Regional Chamber is northeast Oklahoma’s principal business-driven leadership organization improving the quality of community life through the development of regional economic prosperity. The Chamber represents more than 2,100 member organizations and approximately 176,000 area employees, utilizing nearly 4,100 volunteers to accomplish its programs and services across four strategic initiatives: economic development, regional tourism, government affairs and community development.
The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) named the Tulsa Regional Chamber the nation’s best chamber in 2005, 2008 and 2010. In 2013, the Chamber received the Oklahoma Quality Foundation’s Quality Award for Commitment, and the Quality Award for Excellence in 2015. Additionally, the Chamber holds three prestigious accreditations: five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; accredited economic development organization through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC); and accredited destination marketing organization (VisitTulsa) through Destinations International. In addition, the Chamber houses the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture (Tulsa FMAC), Oklahoma’s only accredited city film commission through the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).