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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Chamber Gives Awards to Merl Code, David Wilkins, Betty Farr at Annual Meeting

The Greenville Chamber held its 130th Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at the Greenville Convention Center. The event, presented by TD Bank, featured remarks from Gov. Henry McMaster, as well as the Chamber’s reflection of 2018 successes, vision for the year ahead and a recognition of leaders moving our region forward.

Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips shared the Chamber’s plans for 2019, including highlights such as an emphasis on enriched programming and services for small businesses, the addition of association health plans, and the relocation of the Chamber to the downtown business district.

The meeting featured the presentation of the following annual awards:

The ATHENA Leadership Award®, sponsored by The Hughes Agency, honors individuals who assist women in reaching their full leadership potential; demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; and, provide valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. The 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award® was presented to Betty Farr for serving as a leader for women in her role as CEO of Greeco Beverage Company and throughout her career.

The Buck Mickel Leadership Award, sponsored by Duke Energy, honors those who have had a dramatic impact on the community by playing a leadership role in solving critical community issues, strengthening the community or providing visionary leadership to a major community development project. The 2018 Buck Mickel Leadership Award was awarded to Jerry Blassingame for his passionate leadership in empowering previously incarcerated individuals to reach their full potential.

The 2018 Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, was presented to Judge Merl Code and Ambassador David Wilkins. Judge Code was recognized for his dedication to building a thriving Greenville community as well as to the Chamber, having served as the first African American chair of the Chamber in 1995 and serving as the voice of the Annual Meeting for more than 15 years. Ambassador Wilkins was honored for his dedication to the Upstate, state and nation and his leadership in lending his voice to amplify the Chamber’s advocacy efforts.

The 2018 F. Ben Haskew Collaboration Award, sponsored by Furman University, recognizes Upstate leaders who display progressive visions and a partnership approach to responsible growth in the Upstate. The 2018 award was presented to Senator Karl Allen and Representative Bruce Bannister for the vision and collaboration they displayed in leading a bi-partisan coalition in the passage of House Bill 3209, the expungement expansion legislation, in 2018. 

The Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a Leadership Greenville Alum who has made outstanding civic and community contributions. The 2018 award, sponsored by AT&T, was presented to Ed Zeigler, a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 15. Zeigler has been a part of the fabric of Greenville for more than 4 decades and has shown outstanding leadership in his dedication to the arts community.

The Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award is given annually to an organization that has shown exemplary efforts toward neighborhood improvement and empowerment. The award is named in honor of former Greenville Mayor Max Heller, who spearheaded numerous efforts over the years to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Greenville County. The 2018 award, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, was presented to Rebuild Upstate for their dedication to eliminating substandard housing for our neighbors across the Upstate. 

The Minority Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Bank of America, is presented to a local, independently-, and minority-owned company that has been in business for a minimum of three years. The 2018 award was presented to James White Enterprises. JWE serves clients in the areas of Residential Building, Property Management, Home Leasing, Inspections, Lead-Based Paint Testing, and Project Management and credits their success to their commitment to excellent service.

The 2018 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, was presented to RealOp Investments. With deep roots in the Southeast, RealOp Investments specializes in value-add and opportunistic acquisitions through a relationship-driven pursuit. This is the 42nd year in which the Chamber has recognized the spirit of entrepreneurship by presenting the Small Business of the Year Award.

The Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Michelin, is designed to recognize an individual between the ages of 22 and 39 for his or her involvement in the community. The 2018 award was presented to Jessica Sharp, founder of Sharp Brain Consulting. Sharp is passionate about empowering traditionally underserved and minority communities, specifically youth. She served as the 2018 Chair of the Greenville Chamber Young Professionals initiative.