KOSBE hands out small business awards

Rick Wagner • Dec 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Holston Medical Group’s founder, Dr. Jerry Miller, and founders of Elixir Media Group, Café N’Orleans and Flowers by Copper Creek were among winners in the 2008 KOSBE small business awards.

Other winners in the revamped Kingsport Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship contest this year were Lake Pointe Advertising and Awards, Interim Healthcare of East Tennessee, and Charlie Dotson of TCI Group.

The awards from KOSBE — part of the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce — were presented Friday during a luncheon at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. Miller gave the keynote address.

Corporate sponsors were Blue Ridge Physician Group and Mountain States Health Alliance, while the Kingsport Times-News was the media sponsor.

Miller received the inaugural Achievement Award for his years of work with Holston Medical Group, which he founded in 1977, and health care dating back to his general practice in Nickelsville starting in 1966.

Miller said HMG has thrived — growing to 881 employees and 158 providers — because of its focus on quality care and improvement.

He said problems in health care include nostalgia of doing things the same way when change is needed and burgeoning bureaucracy and overhead costs, as well as shortages of nurses and physicians.

He said efficiency is paramount when 42 cents of every health care dollar is spent on administration, and that HMG has gotten lower malpractice insurance and more contracts in 2008, which he attributed to things like HMG’s electronic medical records system and its diversification into an advanced medical data storage facility in Duffield serving users nationwide.

“I want you to fall in love with the challenges of change,” Miller said.

In the future, he predicted HMG would grow to 200 providers, work closer with hospitals, and partner with the new medical school Bristol-based King College plans.

Small business winners in the contest, which was expanded this year, were as follows:

•Weston Leonard of Elixir Media Group won the Young Entrepreneur Award sponsored by Clark and Co. in a category for people 40 or younger. Other finalists were from Urban Synergy and Bahama Breeze.

•Sherrie S. Germain of Café N’Orleans won the New Business Award, given to businesses in operation for 12 to 36 months. That award was sponsored by Integrity Capital Management. The other finalists were Region 1 Golf Packages and Sugar Mama, a waxing and beauty studio.

•Charles Phillips of Flowers by Copper Creek won in the Business Excellence category for businesses with two to nine employees. That category, sponsored by Leinbach Services, included other finalists Bristol Kingsport KOA and Hillhouse Graphics.

•Larry Burris of Lake Pointe Advertising and Awards won the Business Excellence Award for businesses with 10 to 29 employees. Blackburn, Childers and Steagall sponsored the award, which had no other finalists.

•Peggy Helton and Sandy Jarnigan of Interim Healthcare of East Tennessee won the Business Excellence Award for businesses with 30 to 150 employees. Sponsored by Rodefer Moss & Co., that category had no other finalists.

•Charlie Dotson of TCI Group won the Impact Award, given to someone judged to have done the best job helping and mentoring a start-up small business.

Unlike the other small business awards, that award was based on nominations from those who entered in the other categories.

Paige Goforth, owner and founder of Tutoring Solutions and winner of a KOSBE award last year, nominated Dotson.

Other finalists for the award, sponsored by Triten Insurance, were Steve Lahair of Chef’s Pizza and Bill Testerman of Blackley Mitchell.

Also at the luncheon, KOSBE Chairman Jeff Hostetler gave a recap of KOSBE’s year, which included serving 317 clients in the area, starting a peer counseling program, helping complete 39 business plans, and facilitating 148 small business loans. Hostetler said KOSBE helped retain 193 jobs and create 79 new jobs with a total economic impact of $2.47 million.

KOSBE’s Web site this year began to feature a speaking avatar with artificial intelligence named “Melissa” but based on KOSBE employee Vanessa Bennett.

And KOSBE Executive Director Aundrea Wilcox represented Kingsport small businesses at the Tennessee Governor’s Conference and Veterans Conference and testified during a congressional hearing on small business opportunities for contracting.

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