Back row: Weldon Bowman, founder of W Design and 2020 chair of the Tulsa Small Business Connection; Roger Ramseyer, market vice president for Cox Communications and 2020 chair of the Tulsa Regional Chamber; Mark Lounsbury, director of veteran services for Volunteers of America; Pam Richardson, CEO of Volunteers of America; Bill Solomon, president of Vacuworx; Cole Cunningham, co-owner of Mythic Press; Hershel Self, co-owner of Mythic Press; Dave Shirley, benefits practice leader at Premier Consulting Partners (accepting for James Shirley of James Shirley Management Consultants); Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. Front row: Colleen Almeida Smith, executive director of the Tulsa Small Business Connection; Angela Byers, founder and CEO of Byers Creative and 2019 chair of the Tulsa Small Business Connection; Jeri Barrientos, founder and CEO of First Mate Financial Advisors; Lisa Riley, owner of Pinot’s Palette Northeast Oklahoma Studios; Gloria Fletcher, president and publisher of the Tulsa World; Susan Ellerbach, executive editor of the Tulsa World.
The Tulsa Regional Chamber honored local individuals and organizations at its sixth annual Tulsa Small Business Summit on Oct. 24. Nearly 550 area professionals attended this year’s summit, making it northeast Oklahoma’s premier small business event. The Tulsa Small Business Connection, a Tulsa Regional Chamber program that educates and empowers businesses with 50 employees or fewer, produces the half-day summit.
This year’s summit 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.”
The event culminated with the annual Small Business Awards presentation. Nominees went through an extensive application process judged by local small business resource partners. This year, seven individuals or organizations were recognized for the impact they make in their industries and communities.
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
“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 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.”
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