CORNELIUS – A record number of award recipients highlighted the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s third Champions of Diversity awards breakfast Sept. 18.
The event, held at Port City Club off Harborside Drive, honored four winners: a large company, small company, nonprofit and individual.
Metrolina Greenhouses, a 41-year-old, family-owned wholesale plant and services company off Huntersvile-Concord Road, was named the Large Business Champion.
Chamber President Bill Russell said the greenhouses employ a diverse group of workers in the company’s management system.
Mama’s Pizza Express earned the Small Business Champion title, and Ada Jenkins Center Executive Director Georgia Krueger was named the individual Champion of Diversity.
“As a small business, it’s got to be a big honor to (Mama’s Pizza President) Frank (Manis) to have this recognition,” Russell said. “I’ve known Georgia since 1996, and she’s always been an invaluable asset to this community,” he added. “Her work with the Ada Jenkins Center means a lot to our area, because they’re committed to not just helping people, but instilling in them the confidence they need to get back on their feet. She doesn’t do things for any notoriety. It’s just about doing the right thing.”
Krueger, when presented with the award, said there’s no difference between business owners and those her organization helps.
“We’re all people,” she said.
Helping Others Help Themselves, a nonprofit job bank designed to help out-of-work residents gain employment, was the first nonprofit to be recognized.
Russell said all four categories should return at next year’s awards breakfast. The focus for the time being, however, rested on this year’s recipients, and keynote speaker Ronnie Bryant, the president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
The event’s winners displayed a vested interest in promoting awareness of diversity in the lake’s business landscape and the community, Russell said.
“Being recognized by your peers is probably the greatest recognition you can possibly have,” he said.