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Chamber highlights small businesses

By Tyler H. Jones

tjones@civitasmedia.com

Teresa Dutton throws pizza dough Thursday as she prepares for the lunch rush at Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_ChamberAwards02WEB.jpgTeresa Dutton throws pizza dough Thursday as she prepares for the lunch rush at Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

Teresa Dutton removes a dish from the oven Thursday as she prepares for the lunch rush at Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_ChamberAwards03WEB.jpgTeresa Dutton removes a dish from the oven Thursday as she prepares for the lunch rush at Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

Teresa Dutton, general manager of Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway, prepares for the lunch rush Thursday. Mighty Joe’s won a LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce small business of the year award in 2015.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_ChamberAwards01WEB.jpgTeresa Dutton, general manager of Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway, prepares for the lunch rush Thursday. Mighty Joe’s won a LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce small business of the year award in 2015.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

LaGRANGE — The key to success in small business is hard work, says Teresa Dutton, general manager of Mighty Joe’s Pizza on Lafayette Parkway.

Last year, that hard work paid off for her, along with the owners and staff of the downtown pizza joint, when the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce named them the Small Business of the Year with five or less employees.

“Daily, you’ll see us in here cooking and prepping for the day,” Dutton said. “We make everything fresh, and that quality shows — but without hard work and caring for the customer, we wouldn’t be here.”

This year, they’ll have to defend their title as the chamber accepts applications for the 2016 awards, which are being received now through April 12. The contest is open to chamber members and applications can be obtained by contacting the chamber.

Page Estes, chamber president, said the awards are aimed at spotlighting local business owners that make a difference in the community, but might otherwise go unnoticed.

“We want to recognize outstanding business performance among our members and create an opportunity to thank them for their success and what they do to give back to our community,” she said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of any economy, and that’s especially true in Troup County. Our big businesses and manufacturers get a lot of press, but our small businesses are the ones that keep things going day to day and are the largest overall employers in our community.”

Estes said many of the award winners go on to mentor other businesses in the area, fostering relationships and building a stronger economy of the area.

Because of the varying sizes of small businesses, the chamber divides the award into three categories based on the number of full-time employees: one to five; six to 25; and 26-50.

The applicants are judged by an independent committee associated with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center, Estes said. A variety of criteria are used to determine the winners, including the business’s mission statement, overall business plan, contributions to the community and employee benefits.

To be eligible for the award, each business must have been in business in Troup County for at least 24 consecutive months prior to application deadline and be a member in good standing of the chamber.

Award winners are slated to be announced at the chamber’s May 10 Early Bird Breakfast.

“We don’t tell the winners beforehand,” said Estes. “So it’s always a surprise.”

For more information, contact the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce at 706-884-8671.

2015 Small Business of the Year Award Winners:

Mighty Joe’s Pizza (1-5 employees)

LaGrange Landscape & Maintenance (6-25 employees)

LaGrange Academy (26-50 employees)

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.