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The coronavirus has brought new demands and appreciation for technologies that allow work to continue even as workers must remain separated and out of the office.

The Chattanooga Technology Council (ChaTech) sought Thursday to recognize regional companies and leaders who have helped build local technology initiatives during the first annual Technology Excellence Awards (TechX). The pandemic forced the awards program to be done online, instead of in person, however. The inaugural TechX Awards drew 70 nominations from 33 companies and a panel of judges picked both businesses and leaders for their technology achievements in the past year in 10 categories.

"We're thrilled to honor those professionals whose leadership, creativity, innovation, and perseverance have made a difference for their colleagues, their companies, and our community," ChaTech Executive Director Carla Askonas said. The 2020 winners include:

* CxO of the Year, which honors a senior technology executive for their innovation and creativity in planning and deploying enterprise systems, future technology goals and service to the industry, recognized Jennifer Butler of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Butler was praised as "a strategic thinker who also gets things done."

* The Technology Leader of the Year, which honors a manager who has helped grow and shape their companies, was given to Rob Reagan of Text Request. Reagan was recognized as both a technology leader and one who does a variety of other tasks for Text Request.

* Security Leader of the Year was given to Wes Floyd of Kenco Logistics Services, where "security is considered a revenue center, not a cost center," according to Kenco.

* The Data Analytics winner in the TechX award competition was Freightwaves, the logistics brokerage and information company that aggregates data on shipments from more than 200 sources. Freightwaves' team members who were saluted included Brad Hill, Daniel Pickett, David Holt, Jason Baker, John Ellis, Kate Fisher, and Scott Worland.

* The Infrastructure Team of the Year award was given to the playground design and equipment maker Playcore, which has a team of infrastructure staffers who have integrated multiple acquisitions of other companies from across the country. Team members included Adam Dyer, Andy Takach, Craig Soborowicz, Doug Emmer, Jared Bartlett, Scott Sidwell, Travis Duncan.

* Software Developer of the Year was given to Kenston O'Neal at EirSystems, who "uses a buzzword technology to accomplish something meaningful," the award presenters said.

* Tech Company of the Year was Text Request, which helps its clients solve communication barriers and is also regarded as a Best Place to Work for its employees.

* The Unsung Tech Hero of the Year went to Kristin Burrus at the STEM School of Chattanooga as "a driving educational and pedagogical force."

* The Early Innovator Award was given to Bite Force Amp Controller, which is "a potential game changer for the industry," according to judges who selected the winners.

* Project of the Year , which recognizes the most innovative, imaginative, and successful project in either the public or private sector, was awarded to Unum's Global NOC Monitoring Project and its team member Debbie Thornbury, Elya Kurktchi, Michael Smith and Phil Jones.

ChatTech said the call for nominations for the 2021 TechX awards will go out in early 2021. For more information, visit the website at ChaTechCouncil.org

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