A local construction company and an agricultural partnership 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.
Pope Construction Company was named the 2010 Small Business of the Year, while GBH Carrots was named 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jeff Pope accepted the award and spoke about how his father founded the company in 1972, and how the company transitioned from building homes to commercial construction when Jeff graduated and joined the company full time.
"Thank you. This is a big honor," he said while accepting the award. He recalled how his father told him "I don't care if you're bagging groceries, picking cotton or driving a nail, if you'll try to outwork the person beside you, you'll be successful."
Terry Gerrald spoke for his partner Jamie Brannen, who was present at the luncheon, as well as partner Dan Hall. He talked about how GBH Carrots began four years ago in a partnership with Canadian growers, and is now one of the largest carrot producers in North America.
"This is our fourth year, and while we've stumped our toes a little in the learning process, it looks like there's going to be a continued growth." While 80 percent of carrot growers are in California, 65 percent of the population is in the northeastern part of the country. Gerrald said "We feel like we've just scratched the surface."
He accepted the award and spoke for his partners in saying "We're honored to be recognized and appreciate y'all doing that.”
Small Business Committee Co-Chair Lisa Lee welcomed guests and referred to small businesses as "what makes a community run ... the backbone of a community."
Guest speaker Luke Pittaway, Georgia Southern University's Director for the Center of Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership, called small businesses "the only real engine of new jobs in the United States' economy."
Pittaway spoke about the importance of small businesses to communities, stating that they provide more than half the Gross National Product; make up 97 percent of exporters, and create 75 percent of new jobs in the economy.
Small businesses have "a social value that goes beyond economic value" in that these businesses employ friends and family members — neighbors, and others in the community. He encouraged supporting small businesses and suggested the government should direct more incentives and programs towards smaller companies.
Other nominees for the Small Business and Entrepreneur of the Year included the following: America's Finest Gymnastics, Ellis Meat Market, Georgia Power Company, Lewis Color Lithographers, Logan Hagan Welding Supply, Mal-Ad Promotions, St. Andrews Builders, Statesboro Magazine and Thigpen, Lanier, Westerfield and Deal.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 912-489-9414.