Locally owned and operated businesses in the following categories qualify for nomination: Franchise; new business (in business less than 3 years); young entrepreneur (owner under 40 years old); woman-owned (51 percent or more majority owned); veteran-owned (51 percent or more majority owned); food; service; manufacturing; retail; construction; and impact (an individual who has had a significant impact on the local small business community or an individual local small business).
There is no fee to nominate a small business or individual for the KOSBE Awards. The deadline for entries is Oct. 31. Small businesses may also self-nominate. Visit www.kosbeawards.org for the nomination forms, official rules, sponsorship opportunities and details.
Nominations will be reviewed by an evaluation team consisting of five small business experts who will select businesses that they wish to visit based on the clarity, completeness and compelling story provided in the nomination form. Next, the evaluation team will pair up and conduct field interviews. The interviews will be spontaneous and last no more than 10-15 minutes. The evaluation team will reconvene at a later time to decide the winners, who will be announced in December, at a special recognition event on Thursday, December 13th from 6 to 8 p.m. at MeadowView Marriott Convention Center.
Sam Booher, KOSBE Advisory Council chairman, thinks the adjustments made to this year’s KOSBE Awards are much needed and better aligned with how entrepreneurs do things and the way small businesses truly operate.
“This process is going to be a lot easier on small business owners and the judges,” said Booher. “Now, anyone can nominate a business they enjoy doing business with. In the past, we found that there are a lot of business owners who are too busy to apply or just don’t want to toot their own horn — so we never heard from them. It was also extremely tough on the judges to sit in a room for eight or more hours for two straight days, to listen to ‘Shark Tank’ style pitches. And they did not have the opportunity to really see the owner and business in action. I think that pushing our judges out the door into the streets is the best way to evaluate a business. The judges need to go see what the customer is experiencing. This also takes away the feel of a boardroom inquisition. I think everyone is going to enjoy this new format a whole lot more.”
Seating for the KOSBE Awards event is limited and early ticket purchases are recommended. Tickets are $85 per person and must be purchased in advance online, in person at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, or by phone at (423) 392-8811. All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable. The public is invited to attend.