By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Big businesses and small businesses alike were recognized for their contributions for the community and economic stimulus last week during the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce's industry appreciation awards.
Vero Marine Center, Rock City Gardens and Kimley-Horn and Associates were each honored as the chamber's 2013 small, medium and large Company of the Year, respectively, based on employment levels.
"The awards event is an important part of the chamber's business retention program and job creation," said Bill Penney, president of Marine Bank and Trust and chamber of commerce chairman, in a press release.
"We show our appreciation to those businesses that have made a positive impact in our community during the past year, either through architectural enhancements or by way of community involvement and economic impact," Mr. Penney said.
Vero Marine Center was founded in the late 1950s and specializes in marine sales and service plus ship storage and marina operation.
For the past 30 years, the company has organized and promoted the annual Vero Beach Boat Show and contributed to many local organizations, including the Youth Sailing Foundation, The Samaritan Center and the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, a press release said.
Rock City Gardens, a retail garden center and landscaping company established in 1980, sponsors and hosts annual benefits and supports local nonprofits including the Vero Beach Museum of Art, Health Start and H.A.L.O Rescue.
The business also conducts tours for members of state and national nursery organizations and are considered an organization to emulate in the nursery industry, a press release said.
The largest company of the year recognized, Kimley-Horn and Associates, is an engineering firm specializing in civil engineering, landscape architecture, planning, survey work, roadway design, and environmental and traffic engineering.
The business, a green design firm, has been recognized by national organizations as a "Best Company to Work For." The business has 59 employees with an average annual wage of more than $75,000 and an estimate economic impact of more than $5 million, including its involvement with the Environmental Learning Center and the American Cancer Society.
Other awards include Latin business of the year: Alexander Insurance, large manufacturer of the year: Piper Aircraft, small manufacturer of the year: Girard Equipment, and entrepreneur of the year: Kitty Wagner, owner of Blue Star Wine Bar.
The award recognizes companies less than five years old that show increased growth, overcome challenges, good citizenship and have a true entrepreneurial spirit.
Blue Star Wine Bar has doubled its gross revenue in the past three years while facing challenges including leveraging personal funds and licensing and permit conditions.
Ms. Wagner believes community involvement is paramount to her business' continued success. She anticipates revenues to nearly double over the next five years through special events and hosting numerous fundraisers for local charities, a press release said.