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Chamber honors local businesses
St. Andrews Builders, Clubhouse owners take home awards
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Jamie Cartee of St. Andrews Builders, winner of the Small Business of the Year, right, and Darin Van Tassell of Hackers Golf Park/The Clubhouse, winner of Entrepreneur of the Year, accept congratulations after Thursday's luncheon at the Quality Inn. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

 A residential construction company and two men responsible for a multi-million dollar family entertainment center were honored Thursday at the Small Business and Entrepreneur of the Year luncheon sponsored by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Committee.
    St. Andrews Builders, a Statesboro-based construction group specializing in custom home building and design, was named Statesboro’s 2011 Small Business of the Year.
    The Clubhouse at Hackers co-owners Darin Van Tassell and Tony Ross were presented the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year award.
    Jamey Cartee, owner of St. Andrews, accepted the award on behalf of the construction company now in its 20th year of operation. 
    “This is a surprise. I am honored to be here and be a part of this group nominated,” he said when accepting the award. “It is so easy to work and do business in a town like Statesboro when you are surrounded with good and forward-thinking people — the entrepreneurial spirit and energy that is here just makes it easy to get up and go to work every day.”
    Cartee expressed appreciation for individuals that made the recognition possible.
    “The main thing we owe [the award] to is a giving, supportive community. Statesboro is such a strong community,” he said. “We started very small and have been through good and bad times in construction. We have been fortunate to work for great customers. To get a vote of confidence from your peers means everything to me and is a culmination of all our work.”
    A surprised Van Tassell, who was not listed as a nominee — but still in attendance due to a ruse that led the Hacker’s co-owner to believe he would introduce the event’s host, Bubba Hunt — accepted on behalf of the Clubhouse ownership group.
    “This is a huge honor and I thank you,” he said. “[The award] means a lot because this is home. When home recognizes what you’re doing, it is terrific. When your friends and peers honor you like this, it is extraordinary.”
    Van Tassell asserted that the award and success of the Clubhouse speaks to business and the community in Statesboro — he noted that Statesboro’s Clubhouse recently became one of six award winners for a prize given to the nation’s top entertainment facility designs; other recipients were in New York, Washington, D.C, Denver, San Francisco and Orlando.
    Before announcing winners, Small Business Committee Co-Chair Joe Davis congratulated all nominees and applauded their efforts.
    “The biggest testament to these folks is that they are all still in business. Even through the recent let down in the economy, the nominees have prospered,” he said. “The main thing you think of when thinking of these people is their business skills, their attitude and their positive attitudes toward customers.”
    Guest speaker State Sen. Jack Hill commended each of the nominees and stressed the importance of small businesses.
    “My purpose today is to salute the nominees and help everyone gain an appreciation for why small businesses make this community the very special place that it is,” he said. “Small business today, is big business in Georgia. There are a total of about 179,500 employers in the state; about 175,000 of those are small businesses. About 98 percent of all Georgia businesses are small businesses, and they employ about 50 percent of the total workforce in the state.”
    “Two-thirds of all jobs are created by small business,” Hill said. “More importantly, in economic downturns like we have been in recently, more than three-fourths of all new jobs are created by small business. It is an important role that you all play in helping our country, and state, succeed.”
    Other nominees for the 2011 Small Business and Entrepreneur of the Year awards included: 180 Fitness, Custom Marine, Ellis Meat Market, Fordham’s Farmhouse, Frazier’s Flowers and Gifts, Snooky’s and Sonic.
   
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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