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story.lead_photo.caption Accepting awards: Murphy-Pitard Jewelers was awarded the top business award and two category awards – Customer Focus and Family-Owned – during the Spirit of South Arkansas Small Business Awards Ceremony Wednesday in El Dorado. The awards were accepted by, Teri Beth Mitchell, from left, Amanda Pitard and Kate Powell.

Small businesses in Union County were nominated for awards in several categories during the annual Spirit of South Arkansas Small Business Awards ceremony in El Dorado on Wednesday.

Murphy-Pitard Jewelers received the top award – Small Business of the Year – and two category awards, Customer Focus and Family-Owned. Amanda Pitard, Teri Beth Mitchell and Kate Powell accepted the awards for Murphy-Pitard.

Cole’s Jewelers was runner-up for the Small Business of the Year award, accepted by Cindy Cole, her daughter, Lindsie Leverette and Evan Covas. The Small Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Southern Airways Express.

Others nominated for the Small Business of the Year Award include Coco’z Cottage, CODE 3 Services LLC, Especially for You, Evers Cox & Gober PLLC, GenWealth Financial Advisors, Government Supply Services, Laneys Collision Center, Long’s Roofing and Sheet Metal, Magneto Service & Supply Co., Martha’s on the Square, Michelle Balstad: State Farm, Noalmark Broadcasting Corp., Poppy’s Pizza, Sydney Murphy Design, Timmins Hardware and Title Guaranty Co.

In the Woman-Owned Category, the winner was Martha’s on the Square, accepted by Martha Barrios; first runner-up was Morgan Florist and Flying Pig Photography was second runner-up. Other businesses nominated for the award include Anders Trucking, ArtAttack! Graphic Design, BLBreggs & Associates, Luxe Hair Studio, Michelle Balstad: State Farm, Morgan Florist, North College Salon, Peace Love Bath, Salon Petite, Spa on Main, Sweet & Sassy Boutique, Sydney Murphy Design, The Copper Pot, Title Guaranty Co., Voo Doo Tattoo and Wittle Wee Ones Quality Child Care.

In the Customer Focus category, second runner-up was Joe’s Tire, first runner-up was El Dorado Animal Hospital and the winner was Murphy-Pitard. Other businesses nominated for the award include Almost Blonde, First Financial Bank, GenWealth Financial Advisors, Iron Temple Gym, Jason Alan’s Barbershop, Ken’s Discount Building Materials, Long’s Roofing and Sheet Metal, Martha’s on the Square, Neely Wholesale & Supply, Noalmark Broadcasting Corp., PJ’s Coffee, Poppy’s Pizza, Spa on Main, Town House Restaurant and Voo Doo Tattoo.

In the Veteran-Owned category, Creative Means won the top award and runner-up was Long’s Roofing and Sheet Metal. Others nominated in the category include Government Supply Services and Jason Alan’s Barbershop.

BC Carpet Cleaners took the top award in the Minority-Owned category and runner-up was Antigua’s Grill. Others nominated for the award include Genesis Learning Center, Hitmeupp, Venetian Nails & Spa, Superior Cleaning Service, Wittle Wee Ones Quality Child Care Center and Xtreme Fitness.

Other winners in the Family-Owned category include Henley Feed & Farm Supply, second runner-up, and House of Wylie, first runner-up. Others nominated in the category include Antoon’s Jewelers, Cole’s Jewelers, Cook’s Seafood, Crawford Plumbing, Especially for You, Iron Temple Gym, James Simpson Garage, Dr. Jerry H. Grant, Laneys Collision Center, Long’s Roofing and Sheet Metal, Mel’s Seafood Restaurant, Neely Wholesale & Supply, Poppy’s Pizza, PRO-Vent Oil and Lube Shop, Richland Creek Farm, Shelly’s Shoes Etc., Shepherd & Shepherd Law Offices, Spa on Main and Union Square Guest Quarters.

In the Young Entrepreneurs category (persons born in 1977 or later), Lindsey Perry, ArtAttack! Graphic Design won the award and runner-up was Heather Gilmore, Almost Blonde. Others in the category included Nick Johnson, CODE 3 Services LLC; Trey Barker, Country Village Sporting Goods; Charlie Skinner, GenWealth Financial Advisors; Daniel Peralta, Hitmeupp; Kyle Taylor, Iron Temple Gym; Jason Fries, Jason Alan’s Barbershop; Ashlee Black, Southern Realty Group and Laura Barrow, Spa on Main.

There are 224,000 small businesses in Arkansas and they employ almost half of the workforce in the state, said Scott Inman, keynote speaker for the awards luncheon. Inman worked for 17 years as an award-winning television news anchor at KATV in Little Rock and currently serves as director of business development for GenWealth Financial Advisors of Benton. GenWealth also has offices in El Dorado, West Little Rock, Bryant, Lonoke and Stuttgart.

Inman said his father was a small business owner and when he once told his dad it was great that he was his own boss, his dad replied, “I answer to my customers.”

The sale of his dad’s business did not pay for retirement, Inman said, noting that six out of 10 small business owners never meet with a financial adviser. He urged small business owners to consider taxes, business evaluations, their employees and to prepare for the day when they will retire.

Small business owners today are saving an estimated 11 percent less than they did in 1975 and Inman stressed that small business owners help their employees be financially healthy – to ease stress and increase productivity in the workplace. He said only two-thirds of small business owners remain in business for two years and only one-third survive for 10 years.

“As small business owners, don’t give up. Keep fighting for the good of your customers and employees,” Inman said, also urging owners to plan ahead and set goals.

Businesses nominated for the Spirit of South Arkansas Small Business Awards are made up of 50 employees or less, have completed three full years of operations as of Jan. 1, 2017, and have a valid business license. Nominees must be located in Union County or be a member of the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce.

The awards luncheon was sponsored by the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, Southern Airways Express, South Arkansas Community College, First Financial Bank, Long’s Roofing and Sheet Metal, Arkansas Women’s Business Center, Main Street El Dorado, The Diamond Agency and GenWealth Financial Advisors.

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