Businesses proud, surprised to be honored | News


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Many smiles and looks of surprise spread across faces as winners were announced at the annual Claremore Chamber of Commerce awards luncheon on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Rogers State University.

Board President Jim Simmons was master of ceremonies.

“The mission of the nonprofit recognized today is to create engaging experiences that celebrate history, connect community and inspire creativity. The museum showcases multiple collections of artifacts from Claremore’s notable individuals, including Lynn Riggs, Andy Payne, Patti Page, Stuart Roosa and Helen Robson Walton,” said Simmons.

In 2022 alone, the museum hosted an expansion of the Patty Pager exhibit; opened the Lynn Riggs Art Gallery and Lynn Riggs Revitalize; and celebrated Native American Month, Simmons said.

“In addition to showcasing all the history of Claremore, the MoH is an excellent community partner with Claremore Mainstreet, Claremore Schools,” he said.

Steve Robinson, board chairman for the Claremore Museum of History, said he was surprised to hear they won Nonprofit of the Year.

“We were amazed, and so very proud to be given that honor and recognition by the Chamber. It’s our first time the museum has been recognized,” said Robinson.

Formerly the Lynn Riggs Museum, it has been MoH for 11 years, said Robinson.

“We receive no state funding; everything we do is from our annual fundraiser or donations, and a lot of the exhibits are done by our volunteers. So this makes us feel like our efforts paid off,” Robinson said.

Entrepreneurs are the visionaries, self-starters, and risk-takers, Simmons said.

“This couple always dreamed of owning this type of business, which they bought in 2017, to provide a safe, fun learning environment for children in Claremore. Needless to say, their business is full and busy every day,” Simmons said.

The business directly effects the workforce.

“They opened a new operation in October for 2022, and the expansion added 10 jobs to the community, and opened up more child care spots at the Claremore facility,” he said.

Also not expecting to win were Bobbie and LaKisha McNair, with Claremore Children’s Center, who were named Entrepreneur of the Year.

“I was definitely in shock, and still am. We don’t necessarily recognize what we do as a business because it’s more of a passion for it, both child care and helping our employees grow,” he said.

When they hire staff, they try to get them on track with their ultimate desires.

“Child care is not everyone’s long-term interest. We have 43 employees with both locations, and there’s only so much they can do before they top out at pay. Opening a center in Chelsea gave loyal employees who choose child care as a career path to advance,” he said.

Child care is one of the unique businesses people don’t venture into for a profit.

“Child care is a driving force in Claremore. Without child care, people can’t go to work. We’re a quiet little business and I feel like they noticed we’re willing to spend our hard-earned money to provide this service,” Bobbie said.

Customer service practices are outstanding, Simmons said of the next winner. This business was purchased 23 years ago by the current owner.

“Not only have the store owners been actively involved in the community over the years, they have allowed their employees to integrate into the community. The loyalty, dedication and service to the community have not gone unnoticed. Because of the generosity of this business owner, their store manager and their amazing employees, this business will continue to thrive,” Simmons said.

The winner of the Small Business of the Year award said she was very excited and surprised Spirits of 66 was chosen.

“It’s humbling. I wish Sam was here to see it. I was very proud of Amy and our group of employees she put together, and very thankful. I was shocked they would consider a liquor store, and it shows how supportive our community is,” said Becky Cowherd.

Dependable and loyal employees are the reason she cited for winning.

“I see a lot of ‘help wanted’ signs around town. We don’t have that problem; people want to work here,” said Cowherd.

Sam always thought highly of giving back to the community, Cowherd said.

“Amy has done [a great deal] with his training shows and I hope she continues to be part of the community. Sam would be so proud,” she said.

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