Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Chamber Announces recipients of 2024 Minority Business Opportunity Awards

by BPT Staff
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The Business Development Connection (BDC) of the Greater Shreveport Chamber honored outstanding business owners and professionals who are making a difference in our community at the Minority Business Opportunity Awards Dinner, presented by Willis Knighton Health. The event was held on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino.

Each year, BDC recognizes a diverse group of honorees.  The honorees and recipients honored last tonight demonstrate that building a stronger business culture involves empowering growth, creating leadership opportunities, and developing robust community support. They have made a commitment to connect personally and professionally, discover strategies for positive change, and develop innovative ideas for their business and employees.

“Our class of honorees and recipients this year was outstanding,” stated Chamber Chairman-Elect Tom Simms. “It is always so encouraging to see so many new businesses and established business leaders making such an impact in our community.”

During the awards dinner on June 13th, the Greater Shreveport Chamber was proud to announce the following recipients in their respective categories:

Top Business Professional of the Year

Golden A. Ellis – Rhodes Realty, LLC        

With a proven track record as a top producer, Ellis is lauded for her client dedication and real estate acumen.  Beyond her professional success, Golden actively contributes to community service by championing financial literacy through her Golden Angels non-profit organization as well as serving as a board member for numerous non-profit organizations.

Non-Profit Professional of the Year

Andrea McKnight – Development Director David Raines Community Health Centers

McKnight advocates for quality healthcare for the underserved across 4 parishes in Northwest Louisiana. In addition to promoting healthcare services to meet the needs of communities in healthcare deserts, McKnight also capitalizes on her passion for philanthropy by initiating outreach that gives back to communities in need.

Small Business Owner of the Year 

Chauncy Horton, SNA Contracting, LLC

A third-generation contractor and community builder, Horton continues the legacy of construction and construction management established by his grandfather, Johnny Horton Sr., a pioneering African American contractor and pastor.

Emerging Business of the Year 

Kids College STEAM Early Learning Center – Dr. Katraya Williams & Benji Williams

Focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), Kids College encourages creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration with a strong foundation built on knowledge, character, and a growth mindset.

2024 Business of the Year 

Yokem Toyota

“For more than 50 years Yokem Toyota has been a trusted family-owned cornerstone of the Shreveport automotive sector,” stated Chamber President, Dr. Tim Magner. “We are pleased to honor Yokem Toyota as our 2024 Business of the Year for their longevity in business, their philanthropic engagement and their dedication to serving our community.”

Since 1970, Yokem Toyota has been a trusted, family-owned cornerstone of the Shreveport automotive scene. Offering a diverse array of new Toyota models alongside a carefully selected inventory of quality pre-owned vehicles from various manufacturers, Yokem Toyota caters to a wide range of customer needs and preferences.

In 2017, Yokem Toyota partnered with KSLA to create Yokem Connection.  Yokem Connection is a program that provides 26, six-minute segments annually to local non-profits, offering a platform for them to share their message, services and upcoming fundraising events on television.  This is a program they are extremely proud to fund. 

Yokem Toyota places a high value on building lasting relationships within the community and they continue to adapt and innovate, ensuring they meet the evolving needs of their customers while maintaining the warm, family-oriented service that has defined their business for over fifty years.

2024 Lifetime Achievement Award 

Maxine Sarpy

The Greater Chamber was thrilled to honor Maxine Sarpy with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for her monumental civic, community and corporate work for the past 60 years.

“Maxine Sarpy is one of the heroes of the civil rights movement in Shreveport,” stated Chamber President Dr. Tim Magner. “Her leadership, her stewardship, her tireless advocacy and her unflagging dedication to the principals of equality have left a lasting legacy on the civic, corporate, and cultural life of our community.”

Mrs. Maxine Elizabeth Prescott Sarpy, native of Houston, Texas was raised in both Houston and El Paso. In 1962, she made history as one of the first African American students to graduate from the University of Texas School of Nursing in Galveston, Texas. Following her graduation, she served as an instructor at the university until her marriage to Dr. Joseph Sarpy, Jr. in 1963 and moved to Shreveport, LA. Within weeks of relocating, she became involved in the local Civil Rights Movement by rendering medical assistance, alongside her husband, to Rev. Dr. Harry Blake at Little Union Baptist Church. Months later, she was working with Ann Brewster of the local NAACP on a voter registration campaign which she later co-chaired with Dr. Leon Tarver, II. She was then appointed to the Executive Board for the NAACP, by nomination from Rev. Dr. E. Edward Jones.

Mrs. Sarpy’s dedication to civil rights extended beyond voter registration. In response to racial injustices she witnessed in the hospital setting, she led a walkout of black and white employees at Schumpert Hospital. In 1968, her activism continued with the integration of downtown businesses, following a pivotal NAACP boycott, led by B.J. Mason, Chapter President, and Larry “Boogaloo” Cooper, Youth Chapter President, against Stan’s Record Shop to advocate for the hiring of black employees. She helped man the first picket line protesting discriminatory hiring practices. In 1970, she joined her husband and other activists in founding B.U.L.L. (Blacks United for Lasting Leadership), initiating a lawsuit to reform Shreveport’s city government to provide opportunities for African Americans to serve on the city council. In 1984, Mrs. Sarpy’s tireless advocacy culminated in her historic appointment as the first woman to serve on the City Council, after being nominated by Senator Gregory Tarver.

Despite her numerous accomplishments, Mrs. Sarpy’s greatest pride is her family. She has one daughter, Dr. Julie Marie Sarpy Walford and husband Lawrence, and one “God-given” son, Mark Danny LaCour, and wife Alana, along with two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and her beloved cat Georgiana Sarpy.

To this day, her love for her family and community, coupled with her unwavering dedication to justice and change, continues to guide her in the fight for justice and equality, always with love and peace.

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