Civic Impact Award: David Martin, La Paz Chattanooga
Entrepreneur of the Year: Mike Robinson, Brewhaus and Fork & Pie Bar
Young Professional-Friendly Business of the Year: Full Media
Young Professional of the Year: James Chapman, Southeast Tennessee Development District
Three Chattanooga professionals and a local website development company claimed this year's awards from the Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga during a ceremony Friday.
The locals were recognized for their civic impact, entrepreneurship, achievement and friendliness toward young workers.
"I think YPAC and what they're trying to do is great," said James Chapman, a program development specialist at the Southeast Tennessee Development District who was named YPAC's young professional of the year. "Recognizing young people for their initiatives is just great."
About 200 people listened to keynote speaker Ted Alling, co-founder and CEO of American Access Transport, tell his story and predict where Chattanooga is headed in the future.
"A lot of us are in this room right now because of these companies," he said, showing a screen that included Chattanooga's major employers. "All these companies have given back to the community, they've invested here. Everyone keeps saying, 'We've got so much potential; we've got so much potentia;.' I think the time is now. We've got to go to the next level."
David Martin took home YPAC's civic impact award for his work as the communications and development manager at La Paz Chattanooga. He said the city will have to make a transition to the next generation of business leaders in the next few years in order to continue to grow.
"I think our age bracket has been the beneficiary of some work that was done by the people who really spearheaded the revitalization effort," he said. "My hope is that they can hand off the baton to the younger demographic, so that we can put our stamp on it and start a new era of success."
He thinks the transition will be driven by innovation and a willingness to try new ideas. Chapman said he thinks the city's startups will help to push Chattanooga to that next level.
"I see it as an entrepreneurship renaissance movement," he said.
Full Media, a local company that helps companies design websites and Internet marketing strategies, took home YPAC's stamp of approval for being a good place for young people to work, and Mike Robinson, who opened Chattanooga's Brewhaus Bar in 2011 and Fork & Pie Bar in 2012, earned YPAC's Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Robinson said Chattanooga's atmosphere is ripe for growth, but added that it won't be an easy process.
"From top to bottom, from real estate to engineering to manufacturing, we kind of have the perfect storm brewing," he said. "A lot of people have some really great ideas. I've been a part of a lot of great conversations, but people still need that push to go and do it. Entrepreneurship is no easy job. You have to eat, sleep and drink it, and it's tough. But it's rewarding."