For the first time in its 133-year history, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce will conduct its annual meeting this year online with a virtual gathering among members of the business association on Aug. 26.
But even though the Chamber won't have its usual in-person gathering of hundreds of business and community leaders, this year's annual meeting will continue to recognize top businesses in areas like sustainability, education and diversity.
The Chamber's annual awards will be presented this year along with the Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year, an annual honor presented since 1986 by a group of local management, human resources and business associations, and the Small Business of the Year awards, which were originally scheduled to be given April 1. The awards are being combined in a single forum and done online this year because of fears of an in-person gathering potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Through June 30, the Chamber is taking nominations for businesses to be recognized with awards in a half dozen categories:
* Healthy Business: Recognizes a Chamber member organization for investing in the health of employees and thus the health of our community.
* Sustainability Partner: Recognizes a Chamber member organization for sound environmental preservation actions and practices in business.
* Business Education Investor: Recognizes a Chamber member organization that has excelled in partnering with our school system to help create a strong talent pipeline.
* Velocity 2040 Community Collaborator: Recognizes a Chamber member organization that has gone above and beyond to collaborate with other organizations to address community challenges and create opportunity.
* Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement: Recognizes a Chamber member organization that demonstrates a commitment to attracting a diverse workforce and building an inclusive environment in which all can be successful.
* Family Friendly Workplace: Recognizes a member organization that excels in creating a flexible, friendly and enjoyable workplace.
An organization may be nominated in more than one category, but nominations must be submitted separately and should be submitted to the Chattanooga Chamber by Tuesday, June 30.
Last year, the Chamber recognized a half dozen local companies and organizations — Rock City, Mad Priest, Unum, McKee Food, Crash Pad and green / spaces — as top award winners.
The Small Business of the Year awards this year will recognize top companies in three different staff sizes, plus a nonprofit of the year. The winners are selected by an independent volunteer committee of local business leaders convened by the Chattanooga Chamber.
The finalists for the Small Business of the Year for 1-20 employees are Art Creations, CPR Wrap and Acumen Wealth Advisors; for 21-50 employees the finalists are the Chattanooga Football Club, P & C Construction and Master Machine; and for businesses with 51-300 employees the finalists are the Chattanooga Lookouts, Mike Collins & Associates (MCA) and Trident Transport. The finalists for the nonprofit of the year are the Creative Discovery Museum, Siskin Children's Institute, and Cempa Community Care.