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Billy Hickman named 2007 Business Leader of the Year
Billy Hickman thanks family, friends, and colleagues after being named Business Leader of the Year at Thursday's Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at the Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Center ball room. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    After being named the 2007 Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year at a banquet Thursday, local accounting firm partner Billy Hickman appeared quite surprised.
    “I am so humbled and hope I can get through this,” he said as he took the stage to accept the honor. “I thank God for allowing me to work in a community that really cares about people.
    Following a leading introduction by Kenny Stone, during which he dropped several hints before identifying Hickman as the night’s honoree, Hickman, managing partner of Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and Cannon, LLP,  gave credit to several whom he said helped him achieve his many accomplishments.
    “My professional life really started when Earl Dabbs and Julian Deal hired me,” he said. He credited his partners in the firm, current and past, for supporting him in his endeavors. “It’s just been unbelievable.”
    Dabbs encouraged him to help others and “give back to the community. Ellis Wood inspired him to lead a “strong spiritual life ... He has really  taught me the unselfish life of giving,” he said.
    Hickman also recognized the Chamber of Commerce and its president Peggy Chapman for support and for what they do for the community, as well as hosting the night’s event.
    “I’m more humbled than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “And I love Bulloch County.”
    After the ceremony, during which other community leaders involved with the Chamber of Commerce and its many committees were recognized, Hickman was surrounded by friends and family members, local business leaders and others, each waiting to congratulate him on his honor.
    When the crowd thinned,  Hickman was able to talk about how he felt about being named the 2007 Business Leader of the Year.
    “I just love this place. I love Bulloch County,” he said. “It took so many people helping me to get to this place. I’ve had so many mentors. Statesboro and Bulloch County is an unbelievable place and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
    He said he raised his sons, Rhett and Rusty, to love Bulloch County, and always worked towards making the area a better place so his sons would have the opportunity to find jobs and live here, he said.
    Stone listed many of Hickman’s accomplishments as he teased into the introduction.
    “Our business leader of the year learned the value of work at an early age,” he said. “He worked after school ... sold boiled peanuts, pumped gas, cut grass at Eastside cemetery, delivered the “Statesboro Herald,” and even drove a school bus.”
    When he heard those words, Hickman knew it was him.
    Stone also spoke of Hickman’s accomplishments later in life. Some of those included being an active alumnus of Georgia Southern University, serving as a member of the Business Advisory council for the College of Business Administration and as vice president of the School of Accounting Advisory Council.
    Hickman has been active in the “A Day For Southern” campaign, serving as chairman in 2004. He also served as chairman of the Georgia Southern Centennial Committee for Bulloch County.
    Hickman also serves on the Ogeechee Technical College board of directors and is past president of the OTC Foundation. He is also a past president of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and of Leadership Bulloch and chaired the local United Way  campaign as well as currently serving as chairman of the board for United Way of Southeast Georgia. Hickman is  a former chairman of the Bulloch County Relay for Life campaign.
    Stone said Hickman worked to help bring industry, including Wal-Mart Distribution, Viracon and Briggs and Stratton, to the area during his six years as a member of the Development Authority of Bulloch County.
    Also a “managing member of  numerous hotel ventures in both Statesboro and Savannah,” Hickman serves as a member of the Excelsior Electric membership board of directors.
    During the night’s event, hosted by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and held at GSU’s Nessmith-Lane Building, 2007 Chamber of Commerce chairman Ray McKinney introduced the 2008 chairman, Steve Rushing.
    He thanked the members, committee members and volunteers that worked hard in 2007 as well as their families for showing support.
    McKinney also announced the Chamber’s Committee of the Year: the Governmental Operations Committee led by Bill Golden and George Rountree.
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