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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Chamber Honors Community, Business Leaders At 133rd Annual Meeting

May 12, 2022 11:33AM ● By David Dykes

Shown: Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips unveils new Chamber slogan at 133rd Annual Meeting (Photo provided).

The Greenville Chamber held its 133rd Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, at Fluor Field. The event, presented by TD Bank, featured the Chamber’s reflection of the previous year, its vision for the future and recognition of the area’s business and community leaders.

Greenville Chamber President/CEO Carlos Phillips shared the Greenville Chamber’s plans for the year ahead and unveiled the Chamber’s new tagline, “Growing a Greater Greenville.” 

He challenged those in attendance to not rest on the region’s laurels, and the gains made by many, but to continue to improve its economic and community standing so more people benefit.

Chamber officials point to Accelerate, Greenville’s private sector-fueled economic development initiative. Through the investment of its shareholders, it provides an aggressive and forward-thinking framework for generating additional economic activity and shared prosperity for business and residents alike. 

Chamber officials say that in 2020, Greenville left more than $3.88 billion on the table in terms of unrealized economic activity as measured by Per Capita Personal Income. They say closing that gap is one of the key aims of the Accelerate initiative.

The officials also point to The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) program, which was born from the Greenville Chamber’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative to advance economic inclusion. 

In 2021, a grant from Bank of America expanded the MBA program statewide. The program is being led by the Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville Chambers, and individual programs will be held in each of the three markets.

The Minority Business Accelerator supports and scales high-potential minority-owned firms by providing targeted training, access to business coaches, and access to large corporations. Participants leave the program with a three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan to guide their development.

The Chamber’s annual meeting also featured presentation of annual awards:

The Ambassador of the Year Award, sponsored by AFL, recognizes an individual for service in his or her role as a Greenville Chamber Ambassador. This year’s award was presented to Becky Ballenger, an ambassador since 2019.

The ATHENA Leadership Award, sponsored by 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 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award was presented to Katherine Smoak Davis for her excellence in business and her mentorship to emerging leaders.

The Buck Mickel Leadership Award, sponsored by Duke Energy, honors those who have had a significant 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 2021 Buck Mickel Leadership Award was awarded to Judge Merl Code and David Lominack for their roles as co-chairs of the Race Equity and Economic Mobility (REEM) Commission.

The 2021 Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Ogletree Deakins, was presented to Rich Hagins, founder and CEO of US&S. Hagins was recognized for his dedication and tenacity in leading the Chamber through the pandemic in his role as 2020 Board Chair.

The 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 2021 award was presented to Mary F. Duckett for her advocacy in the construction of Unity Park.

The Leadership Greenville Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a Leadership Greenville alum for his or her civic and community contributions. The 2021 award, sponsored by Prisma Health, was presented to Joseph M. Pazdan, II, a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 27. He was recognized for his economic and community development efforts.

The Max Heller Neighborhood Improvement Award is given annually to an organization or individual 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 2021 award, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, was presented to Joshua C. Tew, who has played a vital role in the redevelopment of Laurens Road and in supporting minority-owned businesses.

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 and is a graduate of the Minority Business Accelerator program. The 2021 award was presented to Corporate Stitch. Owner Dionne Sandiford has grown the company exponentially, even during the pandemic, demonstrating entrepreneurial excellence, Chamber officials said.

The 2021 Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Trehel Corporation, was presented to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Chamber officials said Harvest Hope Food Bank fills an important need in the Upstate by providing food for some of South Carolina’s most vulnerable residents.  

The Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Michelin North America, is designed to recognize an individual between the ages of 22 and 39 for his or her involvement in the community. The 2021 award was presented to Kamber Parker, interim executive director at GAPS and owner of The YoPro Know. In addition to her professional achievements, she was recognized for her commitment to the Chamber’s Young Professionals initiative.