Gillum named Entrepreneur of the Year as 2021 Annual Meeting takes center stage
A beautiful backdrop at Bell Manor served as the perfect setting as the Chamber celebrated its biggest night of the year at the 2021 Annual Meeting and Awards Tuesday, July 13.
Tara Gillum, of Steiner’s Speakeasy & ALPHA Femme Boutique, was named the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year, while Ed Kunzelman was given a Special Recognition Award for his work to help revitalize Chillicothe’s downtown.
In addition, Tomlinson Insurance was the winner of the Legacy Award, Herlihy Moving and Storage was named Corporate Citizen of the Year, and the Chillicothe City Schools’ Mary Montgomery was named the Young Professional of the Year.
Gillum’s honor came after her main business, Steiner’s, was hit hard by the pandemic. But, in awarding her the honor, the Chamber noted her efforts to pivot with specialty cocktails, creative video tutorials, and her quick response to capacity limitations as evidence of her business acumen. She also opened ALPHA in 2020, despite the pandemic.
Gillum thanked her husband, Nathan, and the downtown business community for rallying around each other not only during the pandemic, but before and after as the downtown gained its footing.
Kunzelman – who was named Entrepreneur of the Year years ago for his work to found Petland – was honored for his effort to renovate buildings and partnerships with small businesses to help bring back Chillicothe’s downtown.
In a moving speech, Kunzelman praised the work of downtown business owners – including 47 females that either have a stake or own businesses in the downtown – as they have purchased and renovated buildings. “We’ve gained a footing now,” he said, also commenting the future is bright (as evidenced by “seven or eight projects” being planned at the moment.).
Two longstanding businesses – Tomlinson Insurance (Legacy) and Herlihy Moving and Storage (Corporate Citizen) – were also honored for not only longevity, but attention to customers and work to bolster the community.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Herlihy family, Joe Herlihy thanked the community for supporting the business through the years. “I think it’s very clear we have a special community in Chillicothe and Ross County. We’re very happy to serve,” he said. Tomlinson was short to the point, thanking customers and voiced his hopes to pass on the insurance business to his young family to “serve for another 168 years.”
The first award of the evening went to Mary Montgomery, food services director for the Chillicothe City Schools. Montgomery not only started a mobile food unit “Babe the Big Blue Bus” in 2018, but spent 2020 coordinating volunteers to pass out 170,000 meals to students during the pandemic.
Montgomery’s graciousness shined through in her acceptance speech, noting her family’s record of community service and her staff’s commitment to serve students each and every school day. She thanked each of her employees by name and praised the Chillicothe City Schools as a place where she has been free to pursue her wildest ideas.
The more than 325 attendees also heard a “State of the Chamber” address from President & CEO Mike Throne. The meeting, which is normally held in March, was pushed back this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.