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What do a pest control company, beverage company, CPA firm and a packaging manufacturer have in common? They were all winners of Better Business Bureau Serving Southeast Tennessee & Northwest Georgia (BBB)'s 2022 Torch Awards for Ethics.

BBB proudly announced four winners of our 2022 Torch Awards for Ethics and Students of Integrity Scholarships during our annual Torch Awards for Ethics luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center on May 11.

BBB's Torch Awards for Ethics are presented annually to gain public recognition for businesses and non-profit organizations that are committed to operating their organizations with a strong focus on ethics and trust. The Torch Award is designed to promote not only the importance of ethical business practices, but the willingness and efforts made by outstanding businesses to ensure that the marketplace remains fair and honorable for all consumers.

Companies were nominated for BBB's Torch Award and then asked to provide information that demonstrates their focus on the 4C's of Trust: Character, Culture, Customers, and Community.

They were asked to share details for the following areas of their operations:

* How a company's leadership uses internal and external communication and/or activities that help their organization intentionally build and maintain an ethical culture and practice.

* How the organization implements the best management practices and encourages employees to pursue and develop expertise in their areas of responsibility.

* How human resource practices prepare, support, recognize and provide opportunities for growth in both competency and ethical behavior for staff members

* Examples of the company's community support and service activities within their industry and community.

The following companies were recognized as BBB's 2022 Torch Award for Ethics Winners and Finalists:

- Category I (1-10 employees) Winner: Lady Bug Exterminating Company, Inc.; Finalists: Classic Cabinetry & Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security

- Category II (11-49 employees) Winner: The Double Cola Company; Finalists: CU Services, Inc. & '58 Foundations

- Category III (50-99 employees) Winner: JHM Certified Public Accountants; Finalists: P&C Construction, & Scenic Community Credit Union

- Category IV (100+employees) Winner: Southern Champion Tray; Finalist: Lawson Electric Company, Inc.

Winners of BBB's local Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics are eligible to enter the International Association of Better Business Bureau's (IABBB) Annual Torch Award for Ethics contest, which is open to companies throughout North America.

During the event, we were proud to recognize three Chattanooga based companies that have recently won an award or honorable mention from IABBB.

In 2020, Walden Security was one of four companies to be selected as a winner of IABBB's Torch Awards for Ethics. First Volunteer Bank received an honorable mention for the 2021 International Torch Award, and Lawson Electric Company, Inc. received an honorable mention for the 2018 International Torch Award.

BBB has also awarded more than $170,000 in Students of Integrity scholarships during the past eighteen years to deserving high school seniors located throughout Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. This year, ten (10) students received $1,000 scholarships after being selected from nearly 120 entries. As part of their entry, students were asked to include an essay on the importance of ethics in business and our community.

The winners of BBB's 2022 "Students of Integrity" scholarships are: Kellan Baker of McMinn Central High School, Elizabeth Baxter of South Pittsburg High School, Kaitlyn Boller of Ridgeland High School, Bladyn Bowman of Trion High School, Luke Bryant of Gilmer High School, Leah Easterly of Whitwell High School, Kendall Heath of McMinn County High School, Shealeigh Hott of Coahulla Creek High School, Sarah Reed of Ringgold High School, and Parker Taylor of Heritage High School.

BBB's special commemorative Torch Awards for Ethics insert will be offered in print and digitally in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Sunday, May 29th. The publication will highlight BBB's 2022 Torch Award winners, Scholarship Recipients and Event Sponsors.

BBB is now taking nominations for the 2023 Torch Awards for Ethics, which can be submitted at bbb.org/chattanooga under the Torch Awards for Ethics event link or by contacting BBB at 423-266-6144.

Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga

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