The 2017 Manatee Small Business of the Year Awards Luncheon was held on Friday, August 11, 2017 at the Fete Ballroom at Polo Grill. This program annually recognizes small businesses for “quality and excellence” as exemplified by growth, productivity, customer service, job creation and overall contribution to the community. The Manatee business community is supported by many deserving non-profit organizations that help strengthen our business environment and improve our quality of life.
The Manatee Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the four winners for 2017:
Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery in the under $250,000 revenue category, Williams Wealth Management Group in the $250,000 to $1 million category, Blalock Walters, P.A., in the more than $1 million revenue category, and Pace Center for Girls in the non-profit category.
Jonathan Fleece, managing partner of Blalock Walters, P.A., 802 11th St. W., a company noted for its ethics and leadership on numerous boards and charitable organizations, led most of his staff onto the dais after his company was announced as a small business of the year.
“To be in such amazing company with businesses and people who dedicate every day to making the community better is truly humbling.” Fleece said. “Small business is big business and is the backbone of our community, our state and our great nation.”
Fleece, well known for his love of quotes, borrowed one from a Facebook friend who posted that being a candle is not easy. In order to give light, one must burn.
“All of us here today and for nearly 100 years have a burning passion to make a difference in the lives of our clients, our business, our community and our friends,” Fleece said.
Fleece paid tribute to former Chamber President Bob Bartz, who died in February at age 65. Bartz built the Manatee Chamber of Commerce into a powerhouse of 2,100 members, helping it win honors as Florida Chamber of Commerce of the Year four times and national Chamber of Commerce in 2007.
Fleece expressed confidence that Jacki Dezelski, the new president, would continue to lead the chamber in an outstanding way.