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Small businesses awarded at 30th annual luncheon

Local business owners took a well-deserved lunch break last Thursday to recognize a few of their own. The annual Small Business Awards Luncheon filled the Bradenton Auditorium with the nominees, their families and employees, long-standing leaders in the community, and start-up entrepreneurs doing some important networking.

The program highlight was the presentation of the Paul Bartley Community Award to a company that epitomizes community service. The late Bradenton Herald photographer was represented by his wife, Ruth; son, David; and daughter, Linda McKinney. They watched proudly as David Bassett presented the inaugural prize to Darrell Turner of Turner Tree and Landscape.

Manatee Chamber of Commerce chairman Mac Carraway noted that this year marks the 30th annual awards presentation and that this year, 29 businesses were nominated. He drew a laugh when he invoked “executive privilege” and nominated himself to even out the nominees and the anniversary.

Small Business Council Chair Linda Cinque and Chamber vice-president of small business Neil Spirtas agreed that the judges’ decision was particularly difficult this year. Neil said that the scores were the closest he had ever seen.

Everyone went home with a little prize since Yonilee Miller of Moonlight Marketing put a small bag at each place setting. The bag held a chocolate Moon Pie with a card reminding folks that it was “sweet to be nominated.”

Congratulations to the winners: Steve and Sharon Litschauer, On A Shoestring; Mary Bennett, Campus Books; Tom Seguin, Suncoast Gem Lab; and Dr. Arthur Valadie and James Needham, Coastal Orthopedics.

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations.