Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards


The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce knows that involved and engaged businesses and individuals make their communities stronger and more dynamic, so at our Annual Dinner Meeting and Awards Gala we recognize members who have made a local impact in the past year.

Call for 2023 Annual Award Nominations are Now Open!

Help us identify the businesses, organizations, and individuals who have worked hard in 2023 to better the Athens Area by filling out the following nomination form. Each of our six awards focuses on a different type of community impact, and you can read more about each individual award and see a list of previous winners if you scroll down below.

Nominations are due by Thursday, December 16th.

You do not need to nominate a business or individual in each category, and you do not need to be a Chamber member to make a nomination. Your name and contact information will only be used if follow-up information is required.

Annual Awards Nomination Form


2022 Annual Award Winners

  • Distinguished Service Award: Leslie Schaller
  • Holzaepfel Economic Growth Award: Stuart’s Opera House
  • Jon Sparhawk Small Business Award: Shriver’s Pharmacy & Wellness
  • Young Professional of the Year: Mollie Fitzgerald
  • Community Support Award: Southern Ohio Copperheads
  • Best New Business: 740 Audio

Learn more about 2022 winners here

Each year, the Chamber honors businesses and individuals in the following six categories:

Distinguished Service Award

Our longest running award, the Distinguished Service Award is presented by the Chamber to an individual who has shown tremendous service to the community over an extended period of time.

Past Award Winners:

1986 Pat Sauber
1987 O’Bleness Memorial Fund (John Clark & John Jones)
1988 The Athens Community
1989 Robert D. Huff
1990 Donald Barrett
1991 Michael J. Holzaepfel
1992 Jim Sands
1993 Charles & Claire Ping
1994 Charles & Claire Ping
1995 Jim Anastas
1996 Don Wood
1997 Kenner Bush
1998 Harold Laughlin
1999 Foster Cornwell Posthumous
2000 John Jones
2001 Sandy and Jack Bortle
2002 Ed Robe
2003 Fred Weber, II
2004 Bob Norris
2005 Richard Castrop
2006 Diane McVey

2007 Rick Abel
2008 Robert Gall
2009 Larry Conrath
2010 Andy Stone, Athens City Engineer & Director of Public Works
2011 Mark Snider
2012 Larry Payne
2013 Aaron Thomas
2014 The Sheridan Family, Shamrock Auction Services
2015 Michael Carpenter, Carpenter and Associates
2016 Ron Lucas, City of Athens
2017 Phil Meyer, Ohio University Credit Union & Wendy Jakmas, Individual Supporter
2018 Bill L’Heureux, L’Heureux Properties
2019 John Schmieding, Athens Area Mediation Services
2020 Frontline Healthcare Staff from OhioHealth, Athens City-County Health Department, Athens County EMS, Holzer
2021 Jessica Thomas, Brenen’s Coffee Café
2022 Leslie Schaller, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and Casa Nueva


Holzaepfel Economic Impact Award

The Holzaepfel Economic Impact Award was first established in 1993 and recognizes a business for exceptional economic impact on the Athens community. Appropriately so this award was named after Mike Holzaepfel a District Manager and Economic Development Specialist for a major utility company in Athens. Mike has since moved out of the area but the Chamber still chooses to honor his efforts with this special achievement distinction.

Past Award Winners:

1993 Columbus & Southern Electric Company
1994 University Commons
1995 County Commissioners, City Council, Township Trustees
1996 Columbia Gas of Ohio
1997 Le-Ax Water District
1998 TS Trim Industries
1999 Athens County Port Authority
2000 McBee Systems, Inc.
2001 Diagnostic Hybrids (DHI; Dr. David Scholl)
2002 Cornwell Properties / Les Cornwell
2003 Ohio University / Dr. Alan Geiger
2004 Linda Clark / Innovation Center
2005 The Market on State / Brent Hayes and Tom Parfit
2006 Ohio Realty / Joyce and John Wharton
2007 O’Bleness Health Systems

2008 Ohio University
2009 SJB Companies / Jack & Sandy Bortle
2010 Kroger of Athens / Dave Shull
2011 Sunpower, Inc.
2012 The Laurels of Athens
2013 Holzer
2014 The Ohio University Innovation Center
2015 TECHGrowth Ohio; The Voinovich School / John Glazer
2016 OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital
2017 Athens County Economic Development Council
2018 ACENet
2019 Athens Mold and Machine
2020 Jackie O’s Brewery
2021 The Athens Farmers Market
2022 Stuart’s Opera House


Jon Sparhawk Small Business of the Year Award

This special small business recognition was instituted in 2001. Several years later, after the untimely passing of local restaurateur and Chamber Board member Jon Sparhawk, the Chamber chose to honor his achievements and memory by renaming this award. This business should have ingenious marketing promotions, a thoughtful and conscientious work ethic, and be a community supporter.

Past Award Winners:

2001 Damon’s
2002 184 Columbus Road Limited (VMW Car Wash)
2003 Jon Sparhawk/Oak Room
2004 Certified Mechanical
2005 Milo’s
2006 Brennen’s & Class A Sounds
2007 Mac’s Thrifty Store
2008 A Lasting Impression
2009 Third Sun Solar & Wind
2010 Kiser’s BBQ Shack
2011 Fluff Bakery & Catering

2012 Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery
2013 Mark Porter AutoPlex
2014 Airclaws, Inc.
2015 Lance’s Trailer
2016 Avalanche Pizza
2017 White’s Mill
2018 Red Tail Design Co.
2019 Nelsonville Emporium
2020 West End Ciderhouse
2021 Bagel Street Deli
2022 Shriver’s Pharmacy and Wellness


Young Professional of the Year

This award was established in 2014 to highlight the work of individuals under 40 who have excelled in their professional lives and made an impact on their community.

Past Award Winners:
2014 Kristin Kinnard, Career Connections
2015 Josh Wise, Kroger
2016 Nate Chapman, Quidel
2017 Jenny Stotts, Athens CASA/GAL Program
2018 Dr. Tara Slingerland, Butcher’s Bites
2019 Becky Clark, Pork & Pickles
2020 Dr. Shane Foster, Athens Eye Care
2021 Emily Latta, Certified Midwife
2022 Mollie Fitzgerald, Athens County Economic Development Council


Community Support Award

This award was also created in 2014 to honor a business or individual who exemplifies community by going above and beyond to support the Athens Area for a variety of causes in the area.

Past Award Winners:
2014 SJB Companies
2015 Ohio University Credit Union
2016 Mark Porter Autoplex
2017 OhioHealth
2018 Hocking Valley Bank
2019 Kiser’s Barbeque
2020 Milo’s Whole World Gourmet
2021 Susan Barga, The Athens Real Estate Company
2022 Southern Ohio Copperheads


Best New Business

This award was created in 2022 to recognize a business that has opened in the last 24 months, shows community support and engagement, and offers a much-needed service or product to the community. This award is to celebrate start-ups and entrepreneurs or to welcome a new business to our community.

Past Award Winners:

2022 740 Audio