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Local men honored for commitment to community, small business

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By Angye Morrison

Three Gadsden County men were honored for their commitment to the community and to small business during the Florida A&M University Small Business Development Center’s 26th annual Small Business Week Celebration last Friday evening.

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Held at the GFWC Women’s Club in Tallahassee, the event was the culmination of two days of small business workshops and leadership forums. Themed “Meeting Challenges, Achieving Success,” the event also included activities focused on small business disaster preparedness.

Awards were presented during the Small Business Recognition Gala Friday evening. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Quincy won the Big Bend Business of the Year Award, accepted by Hemant Patel, owner and director of operations.

Patel said the award was a pleasant surprise, and he attributed being selected as the winner to his involvement in the community and to excellent customer service and reviews.

In addition to being responsible for the day-to-day operations of the hotel, Patel is actively involved with the Gadsden County Tourist Development Council, Gadsden County Development Council, Mainstreet programs and is a strong advocate for the Gadsden chamber. He has also served as a committee member for the IAHI Owners Association for Holiday Inn, and is an active member of the Quincy Rotary Club.

Under Patel’s leadership, the hotel has received numerous awards, including back-to-back Region’s Top Hotel with regards to guest satisfaction, the highest revenue per available room, the highest average daily rate and the No. 1 ranking on-trip adviser.

The hotel currently performs in the top 3 percent of all Holiday Inn Express hotels nationwide in overall guest satisfaction, has been the No. 1 Holiday Inn Express overall for the past 3 years, and is in the top 5 percent in associate satisfaction, which ranks above the industry standard in the region.

Patel enjoys spending his free time with his new bride, Raksha; his parents, Victor and Usha Patel; sister, Hema; and dog, Honey. He also enjoys spending time at local sporting events and helping to support county-related events and functions.

David Garner, executive director of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce, along with Midway Mayor Jerrod Holton, received Big Bend Small Business Advocate awards, along with Linda Nicholson, executive director of Innovation Park, and Bejamin Harris, city of Tallahassee.

Allen D. Stucks Sr., of Big Bend Crimestoppers Inc. and a Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce member, was presented a Big Bend Business Service Award, along with Tallahassee restaurant Dog Et Al, Anytime Fitness, the 99 Cent Jewelry Store, FDS Products, Party Central Plus, the Onyx Group and Confidential Shredding & Recycling Inc.

Other winners included Parks and Crump, Attorneys at Law, Big Bend Small Business Decade of Service Award; and Strong and Jones Funeral Home, Big Bend Small Business Quarter of the Century Award.

The weeklong celebration was sponsored by FAMU Small Business Development Center, along with the Leon County Minority Women and Small Business Enterprise Division, Leon County School Board, Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Capital City Chamber of Commerce, Florida Black Business Investment Board and the City of Tallahassee Minority Business Enterprise Office.