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Chamber honors local businesses at virtual Tulsa Small Business Summit & Awards

Published Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Seven local businesses were honored at this year’s Tulsa Small Business Summit & Awards. The summit is a half-day conference for regional small business and nonprofit leaders and their employees produced by the Tulsa Small Business Connection, a program of the Tulsa Regional Chamber that educates and empowers businesses with 50 employers or fewer.  

“While this year has been full of unforeseen challenges for the entire business community, the pandemic has hit our region’s small businesses especially hard,” said Roger Ramseyer, vice president and Tulsa market leader for Cox Communications and chair of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Now more than ever, we want to support local businesses and celebrate their vital contributions to our region. We at the Chamber are proud to be partners in prosperity with so many exceptional business owners.” 

This year’s Small Business Award winners are: 

  • Small Business Person of the Year Award: Elli Johannsson, 360 Engineering Group
  • Rising Star (Entrepreneur of the Year) Award: Angelene Ripley Wright, Ida Red 
  • Manufacturer of the Year Award: Rupesh K. Parekh, Chemtrade Refinery Services 
  • Entrepreneurial Success Award: Hannibal B. Johnson, Hannibal B. Johnson, Esq.
  • Diverse Business Champion Award: Denise Reid, Key Personnel
  • Pioneer Award: Nicole & Tim Smallwood, Tropical Smoothie Café
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: TES Productions

The Chamber received more than 60 nominations for the awards. Nominees went through an extensive application process judged by chamber of commerce executives from outside the region.

“Small businesses have overcome such adversity this year, and the summit is an opportunity to recognize their achievements,” said Weldon Bowman, owner of W Design and chair of the Tulsa Small Business Connection. “While this year’s event looked different than past events, it was an opportunity to reflect on our resilience and celebrate our accomplishments. Our winners exemplify the best attributes of our region’s small business community: a commitment to excellence, outstanding customer service and unwavering perseverance.” 

Small Business Person of the Year Elli Johannsson has experienced tremendous growth in his business since founding 360 Engineering Group seven years ago. The firm has also been involved in some of Tulsa’s landmark projects, including the Tulsa City-County Central Library, the Tulsa Club Hotel, The Boxyard and Gathering Place. 

“Building a business in Tulsa has been the most challenging and rewarding experience in my life,” said Johannsson. “360 Engineering would not have seen the success it has without my talented partner, Aaron Landrum, and the incredible engineers who have chosen to begin and build their careers with us. It’s an honor to receive this award and to be a small part of the growth and development in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.”

To respond to the current realities and provide the greatest value to area businesses, this year’s summit was virtual and free to attend. In addition to the awards presentation, the event featured keynote presentations from Tracy Spears, co-founder of Exceptional Leaders Lab, and Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky, an author and consultant on organizational culture change. Local business leaders shared their expertise in breakout sessions focused on human resources, diversity and inclusion, and sales and marketing. 

“Supporting small businesses has been critical to sustaining our economy during the pandemic,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “We hope programming like the summit will provide area business owners with the strategies and tools to move forward during the recovery process.” 

To watch a recording of the event, click here.


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