The 2012 KOSBE Awards was held Thursday, December 6th at Ridgefields Country Club this year and over 200 people attended the sold-out gala which recognizes small business in Kingsport.

A program of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Aundrea Wilcox heads up the KOSBE initiative. Together with her staff and volunteers, they host an outstanding event which continues to gain momentum each year. In fact, the event was relocated from BANQ to the Country Club to accomodate the growing popularity of the annual recognition.

The evening began with a social gathering as attendees located their tables decorated by each of the nominees. The Unlimited Band performed live jazz from the corner of the room and an amazing dinner buffet was served by Divine Catering from Downtown Kingsport.

This year, Alpha Natural Resources former CEO Michael Quillen was the keynote speaker. As in the year’s past, Mike spoke to WKPT’s Jim Bailey in a one-on-one fireside chat.

Mike talked primarily about coal, and also focused a few thoughts on the ebb and flow of business success. He described how Natural Gas is in the “drivers seat” at the moment. He also discussed how the recent layoffs have been (besides accidents) – one of the toughest experiences he’s ever had as a business professional.

Following the keynote, Leslie Ridings with Hunter Smith and Davis, a Kingsport law firm served as the emcee for the awards presentation along with Vanessa Bennett.

This year, over 36 local businesses were recognized for a variety of categories which included;

  1. Business Excellence (under 10 employees)
  2. Business Excellence (10 or more employees)
  3. New Business (in business 12—36 months)
  4. Young Entrepreneur (owner is under 40 years of age)
  5. Innovation
  6. Small Manufacturer
  7. Woman-Owned
  8. Veteran-Owned
  9. Minority-Owned

Watching each recipient accept their awards was inspiring. A lot of risk, hard work and “blood, sweat and tears” go into starting, building and growing a small business – especially during challenging economic times.

So hats off to everyone of the nominees – each of you deserve the recognition. There were some terrific stories unfolding on the stage as nominees were announced in each category and a runner-up and winner were also announced.

Notable winners included;
Thom Crosby of Pal’s Business Excellence Institute – Winner of the 2012 IMPACT Award
Mayor Dennis Phillips – Winner of the 2012 Caped Crusader Award
Picsee Studios – Winner of the 2012 Exceptional Performer Award