10 Community Leaders and Businesses Recognized at 2021 Business Excellence Awards
Chapel Hill, NC (July 8, 2021) - The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro hosted the 2021 Business Excellence Awards at an online ceremony on Thursday afternoon. 24 finalists were honored, and 10 winners were presented awards live in the middle of Hurricane Elsa.
“This is our 7th annual Business Excellence Awards, and it is the last we hope to have in this virtual format” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro. “For this hour, we will celebrate our community’s best businesses and leaders.”
The 10 award winners listed below were selected by The Chamber’s Awards Selection Committee, made up of local business and community leaders from diverse industries with a demonstrated commitment to our community. The Committee, chaired by Denny Marcin of Pinnacle Financial Partners, reviewed detailed pages of nominations from many nominees, selected three finalists in each category, and then voted by secret ballot on the winners.
The 2021 Business Excellence Award Winners
Business Woman of the Year
Zoë Dehmer, Damn Good Food/Acme Food & Beverage Co.
The 2021 Business Woman of the Year Award is presented to an exceptional woman in business, who has excelled in her job function and industry, and has pioneered initiatives to promote female leadership in business and the community. This year's award is sponsored by Erickson Advisors. The 2021 Business Woman of the Year award is Zoë Dehmer of Acme Food & Beverage Co.
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Within 48 hours of the onset of stay-at-home orders in March of 2020, Zoë Dehmer and her team developed Carrboro United to lend a hand to 45 other small local businesses, operating under the belief that area-wide collaboration benefits the economy and the community. In addition to developing and running Carrboro United, this year Zoë has also led the development of Plum Southern Kitchen & Bar and Heyday Brewing, as well as the post-Covid reopening of Acme Food & Beverage Co. Zoë approaches business development with a passion for creating outstanding work culture and being an employer of choice, focusing training resources on how we can collectively make a better community, not just on skills acquisition. For her innovation, hustle, and commitment to community, we are proud to name Zoë Dehmer the 2021 Business Woman of the Year.
Young Professional of the Year
Cat French, Catherine French Design
The 2021 Chapel Hill Young Professional of the Year Award is presented to a local professional under the age of 40, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in his or her industry and whose achievements have promoted young professional engagement through leadership in the community pertaining to economic development and civic involvement. The 2021 Young Professional of the Year is Cat French of Catherine French Design
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Cat French is the owner and founder of Catherine French Design, an award-winning interior design studio based right in the heart of Chapel Hill, winning the 2021 Best of Houzz Design Award as well as Best of Chapel Hill every year they've been nominated. Cat is a nationally sought-after voice in the interior design industry. This year, Cat was able to not only retain all her staff, but also expanded her staff by 80% while adding subsidized health insurance and a wellness plan with a local personal trainer for her employees. Locally, Cat is an advocate for local artisans, craftsmen, and designers. For her work in growing her business while also contributing thoughtfully to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community, we are proud to name Cat French as our 2021 Young Professional of the Year.
Large Business of the Year
The 2021 Business of the Year Awards are presented to outstanding Chamber members that have shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. The large business category is presented to a Chamber member with 50 or more employees. The 2021 Large Business of the Year is Piedmont Health.
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A day shy of Piedmont Health Services' 50th anniversary, a state of emergency was declared due to Covid-19. Piedmont Health sprang to action to protect patients and staff, keeping their doors open while adapting to fit the needs of the community by providing telehealth services, acute respiratory tent services, curbside and home delivery of medicine, community testing, and vaccination outreach. Despite a sudden drop in clinical revenue, Piedmont Health was able to keep on all staff - re-deploying them to new Covid-19 related roles. The organization has completed over 17,000 Covid tests and vaccinated over 14,000 individuals. For their innovation, service to community, and commitment to equitable vaccine distribution, we are proud to name Piedmont Health Services the 2021 Large Business of the Year.
Mid-Size Business of the Year
Enitech IT Support & Consulting
The Mid-Size Business of the Year is presented to an outstanding Chamber member that has shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. This year's award, presented to a Chamber member with 6 to 50 employees, is sponsored by Pinnacle Financial Partners. The winner of the 2021 Mid-Size Business of the Year Award is Enitech IT Support & Consulting.
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Enitech IT Support and Consulting is a premier managed IT services provider dedicated to serving clients with small businesses in the dental, healthcare, retail and non-profit industries. When the world immediately went virtual last year, Enitech helped their clients move seamlessly to working from home, providing virtual care, and supporting online schooling. Committed to serving their customers and the business community, Enitech covered up to 90% of all IT costs for clients adversely affected by the pandemic, with some clients receiving this relief for up to 12 months. Enitech even provided pro-bono services to restaurants and retailers that were hit the hardest. Despite this, Enitech was able to grow 30% in revenue and double their staff headcount, stimulating the local economy. For their commitment to customer service, we are proud to name Enitech as the 2021 Mid-Size Business of the Year.
Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year
Adkin & Rodriguez CPAs
The 2021 Business of the Year Awards are presented to outstanding Chamber members that have shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity, and contribution to the community. This year's micro-enterprise category, presented to a Chamber member with five or fewer employees, is sponsored by Coastal Credit Union. The winner of the 2021 Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year is Adkin & Rodriguez CPAs.
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Since launching in 2019, Adkin & Rodriguez, CPAs have gained over 50 small business customers, providing unparalleled service and quantifiable value added tax, accounting and advisory services. With their web-based tools and apps, the team is able to serve clients no matter their location. In 2019 and 2020 the firm was ranked fifth and nineteenth in the list of Top Accounting Professionals in the US. The adverse impact of Covid-19 on small businesses prompted Adkin & Rodriguez to pivot their operations—helping clients process Paycheck Protection applications and remain in business. As of April, the firm has provided over forty thousand dollars of services to their clients at no charge. For their innovation, exemplary customer service, and commitment to supporting small businesses, we are proud to recognize Adkin & Rodriguez, CPAs the 2021 Micro Enterprise Business of the Year.
New Business of the Year
Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews
One sign of a thriving economy is the growth of new businesses. The New Business of the Year is presented to a business that has been operating for less than three years. In celebration of exceptional performance in 2020, the winner of the 2021 New Business of the Year Award presented by Town of Chapel Hill Economic Development is Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews.
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Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews opened on Franklin Street in the Fall of 2019, and is bringing people together by sharing food, drink, culture, and story. Epilogue’s commitment to community is demonstrated by their practices of working with local vendors and artists, paying employees living wages while also providing health insurance, and partnering with both student organizations and nonprofits like the NAACP to support the people who call Chapel Hill home. Since the onset of the pandemic, Epilogue has gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of their staff and patrons by providing PPE and investing in air purifiers. Epilogue has proven how dedicated they are to the community in the short year and a half they’ve been open, which is why we are proud to name them our 2021 New Business of the Year.
The Innovation Award is presented to a business that has demonstrated innovation through the concept, value, delivery, and impact of a product or service, system, or event. This year’s Innovation Award is presented by Fidelity Investments. The winner of the 2021 Innovation Award is Carrboro United.
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When the pandemic began last March, Carrboro United stepped in immediately to save the local food economy from collapsing, creating the food hub in just 48 hours. Offering pick-ups three times a week, Carrboro United is a one-stop food hub for consumers to safely and efficiently purchase food from local vendors. As an organization committed to improving the health of the local economy and community at large, Carrboro United pays a living wage, purchases only from local restaurants and food producers, and pays the markup price for all purchased meals. After a year and some change, Carrboro United has put more than one million dollars back into the local economy. With the idea that we’re stronger together than apart, Carrboro United helped restaurateurs and producers navigate through unprecedented times and redefine what it means to be a business community. We are proud to award Carrboro United with our 2021 Innovation Award.
University Born Business of the Year
The University Born Business of the Year Award is presented to a startup business born from university research, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity or a business created while an entrepreneur was enrolled as a student. The business will demonstrate excellence through job creation and economic impact. The winner of the 2021 University Born Business of the Year sponsored by PHE is B3 Coffee.
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In January of 2020, B3 Coffee was established by students at UNC-Chapel Hill as a non-profit organization to promote positive visibility and interactions between people of all abilities. B3 aims to embody the values of Being, Belonging, and Becoming to break down barriers and bolster neurodiversity. Coffee may be their medium for creating community interactions, but it doesn’t end there. B3 hosts twice-weekly Zoom calls to create a space for social engagement despite the pandemic and the challenges it’s brought. As a result of their efforts, B3 was the recipient of the Kenan-Biddle Partnership grant, receiving $5,000 toward their cause. Given their commitment to diversity and unique social offerings to the local community, we are proud to name B3 Coffee as our 2021 University Born Business of the Year.
Community Impact Award
Atma Hotel Group and Inter-Faith Council for Social Services
The Community Impact Award is presented to an outstanding organization that has significantly and measurably made social, economic, or environmental improvements within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. The winners of the 2021 Community Impact Award, presented by Piedmont Health, are Atma Hotel Group and Inter-Faith Council for Social Services.
Atma Website | IFC Website | Video
Shortly after the pandemic began and economic uncertainty started to set in, Atma Hotel Group and the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service forged a partnership to help some of our community’s most vulnerable. It became clear that social distancing would be nearly impossible in the shelter, and with the assistance of the Atma Hotel Group, IFC was able to move individuals experiencing homelessness out of the congregate setting and into hotel rooms at the Quality Inn. Additionally, this past year IFC provided nearly 55,000 hot meals, more than 15,000 bags of groceries, and hundreds of holiday meals to residents while also registering 110 new voters and opening the new IFC Commons in Carrboro. For their efforts in assisting those in need during this difficult time, we are proud to award both Atma Hotel Group and the Inter- Faith Council for Social Service with our 2021 Community Impact Award.
Non-Profit of the Year
The Non-Profit of the Year recognizes an outstanding Chamber member charitable non-profit organization that has shown growth, innovation of product, exemplary customer service, response to adversity and/or contribution to community. The 2021 Non-Profit of the Year, presented by Durham Tech, is EmPOWERment.
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Since 1996, EmPOWERment has served the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community by helping local residents find and afford quality housing. With so many facing displacement during the pandemic, EmPOWERment rose to the occasion and expanded its counseling program to help community members pay their rent and mortgage and avoid eviction. This year, EmPOWERment worked with other area businesses and municipalities to help distribute hundreds of meals and gift cards to local families during the holiday season, as well as connect residents with national relief resources. Additionally, EmPOWERment facilitated phone calls with minority business owners to help local businesses find the resources they needed to survive the pandemic. For their efforts in helping to keep the most vulnerable housed and promoting the general welfare of our community, we are proud to name EmPOWERment as our 2021 Non-Profit Business of the Year.
About the Business Excellence Awards: The 2021 award winners were announced during the Business Excellence Awards – a virtual celebration which took place on Thursday afternoon via Zoom with award runners spread out across the community and program attendees across many counties. View the recorded 2021 Business Excellence Awards.
Event sponsors included: Coastal Credit Union, Town of Chapel Hill Economic Development, Piedmont Health, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Durham Technical Community College, PHE, Fidelity Investments, and Erickson Advisors.
About The Chamber: The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro (The Chamber) is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network is growing with nearly 800 member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives. Members count on The Chamber to connect them with key people, information, and resources; advocate for local business interests; promote their business, our community, and our overall quality of life; and help them save money. Learn more at carolinachamber.org.
Contact: Vanessa Watson, Director of Communications and Programs, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, email@example.com, 919-357-9989 (direct)