Skip to content

10 Community Leaders and Businesses Recognized at a Unique Business Excellence Awards

10 Community Leaders and Businesses Recognized at a Unique Business Excellence Awards

Chapel Hill, NC (July 20, 2020) - The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro hosted the 2020 Business Excellence Awards at a unique online ceremony on Friday Afternoon. 23 finalists were honored and 10 winners were presented awards live with the help of the Carolina Athletics Event Management team. 

“This pandemic has been tough for all of us, but even in very difficult times, we must take time to celebrate successes,” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro. “And so 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 Camille Berry of the Community Home Trust, reviewed detailed pages of nominations from 90 nominees, selected three consensus finalists in each category, and then voted by secret ballot on the winners.
 
The 2020 Business Excellence Award Winners
 

Business Woman of the Year
Elizabeth Hirsh, The Downsizers

The 2020 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 2020 Business Woman of the Year award is Elizabeth Hirsh of The Downsizers.

Website | Video

Elizabeth Hirsh founded the female-owned business The Downsizers, and has hired over a dozen women in the past two years who exude versatility and compassion as they work with seniors who are preparing to move. Elizabeth supports her all-female team through mentoring, flexible work schedules, and annual profit sharing. Elizabeth is passionate about this field—launching the first international Mastermind of National Association of Senior Move Managers. She also mentors students through the Entrepreneurship clinic at NC State and supports the Triangle’s Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Walks.
 



Young Professional of the Year
Dawna Jones, UNC-Chapel Hill


The 2020 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 2020 Young Professional of the Year is Dawna Jones of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Website | Video

As the Assistant Dean of Students at UNC, Dawna Jones works to foster diversity on campus, helping to break down barriers that stand in the way of students achieving higher education. She goes above and beyond to serve the Carolina community by mentoring students as part of the Carolina Covenant program, supervising graduate social work students, and chairing the Carolina Black Caucus, which supports Black faculty and staff at UNC. 




Large Business of the Year
Weaver Street Market

The 2020 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 2020 Large Business of the Year is Weaver Street Market. 

Website | Video

Weaver Street Market's commitment to community is demonstrated throughout all their work, from the students they host for field trips, to their charitable Cooperative Community Fund. In the past year, Weaver Street made co-op ownership more accessible by reducing the share amount to $75 for all households. This fall they will begin offering no-cost shares for lower-income households, demonstrating their passion for a healthy community. Weaver Street Market recently expanded to a Raleigh location. 
 


Mid-Size Business of the Year
Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe


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 2019 winner, Bold Construction. The winner of the 2020 Mid-Size Business of the Year Award is Vimala’s.

Website | Video 
 
Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe is a strong supporter of our local economy and community, demonstrated by its commitment to providing delicious wholesome food to patrons and sustainably sourcing ingredients. Named a High Road Employer by RAISE, Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment, Vimala’s provides benefits to employees in addition to paying them living wages.




Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year
A Plus Test Prep
  

The 2020 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 Enitech IT Support and Consulting. The winner of the 2020 Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year is A Plus Test Prep.

Website | Video

Founders Vince and Sheba Brown are parents and educators whose mission is to turn scores into scholarships--their 2020 student of the year was offered full rides to 45 colleges. In addition to working with students in the area, they contract with high schools across the state to prepare 11th graders for the ACT. This year, they worked with 11,000 of these students.
 


New Business of the Year
Film Fest 919


One sign of a thriving economy is the growth of new businesses. In celebration of exceptional performance in 2019, the winner of the 2020 New Business of the Year Award is Film Fest 919.

Website | Video
 
Films shown at major festivals like Cannes and Venice are curated specifically for the Triangle and screened at Silverspot Cinema, giving locals the chance to see and discuss these films before they open. Festivals aren’t all they do, though. Their OFFSCREEN program gives students a chance to learn from industry professionals, and their “meet the artist” program is a chance to learn from experienced folks working in all aspects of filmmaking.





 
Innovation Award
Hope Renovations


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 2020 Innovation Award is Hope Renovations.

Website | Video
 
Hope Renovations offers an innovative, first-of-its-kind program that benefits vulnerable people in Orange County. They train under-served women in the construction trades so they can make living wages, and they provide aging-in-place repairs and renovations for older adults, where trainees get hands-on experience while contributing to their community.

 

University Born Business of the Year
Brandwein’s Bagels 


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 2020 University Born Business of the Year is Brandwein’s Bagels.

Website | Video
 
Alex Brandwein fell in love with Chapel Hill when he was completing his MBA at the Kenan Flagler School of Business. With support from incredible faculty as well as UNC’s Adams Apprenticeship, Launch Chapel Hill, and Consult Your Community, Brandwein’s Bagels was established in the summer of 2019.






Community Impact Award
Habitat for Humanity of Orange County


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 winner of the 2020 Community Impact Award, presented by Piedmont Health, is Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

Website | Video

Last year, with the help of over 2,000 volunteers Habitat constructed 18 new homes, and repaired 151. This year, Habitat furthers its connections in Hillsborough--opening a new ReStore location, and wrapping up construction on Crescent Magnolia, their 24-unit Hillsborough community specifically for seniors and the first Habitat senior community in the United States.
 



Non-Profit of the Year
Boomerang Youth


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 2020 Non-Profit of the Year, presented by Durham Tech, is Boomerang Youth.
 

Website | Video
 
Since 2006, Boomerang Youth has served over 3,000 students from across Orange County, reaching every public middle and high school. They recently opened a second location in Hillsborough, increasing their capacity to serve.  
 
 

About the Business Excellence Awards: The 2020 award winners were announced during the Business Excellence Awards – a virtual celebration which took place on Friday afternoon via Zoom with award runners spread out across the community and program attendees across many states. The award runners for this program were the Carolina Athletics Event Management Team. View the recorded 2020 Business Excellence Awards.
 
Event sponsors included: Fidelity InvestmentsPiedmont HealthDurham Technical Community CollegeBold ConstructionErickson Advisors, and Enitech IT Support and Consulting
 
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 1,000-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, vwatson@carolinachamber.org, 919-357-9989 (direct)

###