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Businesses honored at chamber meeting
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Bradley's Bar-B-Que has been serving up sandwiches, ribs and BBQ-sauce stains for years and Thursday night, the community gave back to the Covington square establishment and other area businesses.

Last year's local enterprises were reviewed and applauded as The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce handed out awards to businesses and companies at its annual meeting held at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

Chamber members enjoyed dinner and applauded their peer's successes as award recipients took to the stage to receive their honors and say thank you. Chamber president Hunter Hall led the presentation before awards were given. Patrick Carmichael, chair of the Small Business Committee, presented the Dick James Small Business Award to Bradley and Martha Stewart, owners of Bradley's Bar-B-Que.

Bradley Stewart used his remarks to thank the community for all its support.

"I would just like to ask that you continue to support us," Stewart said. "We will do our best to do you proud and thank the chamber for all of your hard work in bringing new businesses to the community and supporting the businesses that are here."

John and Angi Beszborn, owners of Bullritos, were given the new Emerging Business Award for being an outstanding business making an impact in the community. Hall said Burllritos has 20 franchises, but the Beszborn's opened thefirst one in Georgia as they moved to Covington from Texas.

He highlighted some of the best business practices of the restaurant, and said the number one goal was customer satisfaction. Angi Beszborn expressed her appreciation for the award with her husband by her side.
"I did want to come back home. There is no place like home," Angi Beszborn said. "I'm really speechless and I just want to say thank you."

Scott Willis won the Spirit of Excellence Award, voted on by the staff of the chamber to show their appreciation for an individual who has gone above and beyond in their volunteering efforts. Hall said the award usually goes to someone who makes the chamber's lives easier, but joked that Willis creates meetings for their board to go to, in efforts to make the county a better place.

"In 2010, quietly, Scott with the unity of the Chamber Board of Directors requested a 100 percent increase in funds from the city and Board of Commissioners for ramping up Economic Development in Newton County," Hall said. "It was a big ask, but it was his leadership and vision that put the wheels in motion that has lead to the creation - of current and coming - 1,970 jobs created since 2011 and the $1,242,500,000 investment in Newton County."

"He connects the dots like a planetarium and he reads people's motives better than anyone I have ever seen," Hall said.

Willis accepted his award saying that he truly didn't deserve the award, but rather that the community did and said the chamber had a great staff and a strong board of directors moving the county forward.

"If you look at 2012, we've done a lot of good things and there are big numbers, but there are so many things coming down the pipe and it's so good to see every chair in here filled. I urge each of you to get involved and be a part of what's coming."

Baxter International was awarded the Deal of the Year award for its 2012 announcement to build its manufacturing plant, which is set to hire around 1,500 full-time workers by 2018, in Covington.

"Unless you have been living under a rock this year in Newton County, this year's recipient should come as no surprise," Hall said.

Guest speaker Tony Charf, senior vice president and chief cargo officer of Delta Airlines, closed the meeting with a presentation called "Winning the Culture Game," which showed how to accept change and diversity in businesses and use it to become stronger business leaders.