Small Businesses, Big Strides: Part Two

Amanda Ellis

On March 23, we honor recipients and finalists for our 2016 Small Business Awards, and you’ll read about them next month in our April issue.

Here, we highlight the growth of past recipients in our 51-200 employee and nonprofit categories – continued from last month’s update from our 1-20 and 21-50 employee categories.

Investing in People, Startups and Community

Since receiving the Chamber’s 2002 Small Business Award in the 51-200 employees category, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough (HHM) has added staff, expanded services and even incubated companies under the roof of its historic Freight Depot home on Market Street.

The Freight Depot houses HHM and affiliate companies HHM Wealth Advisors, Southside Creative Group and Freight Depot Accounting.

“We’re not a typical accounting firm. You feel the difference when you walk in the front door,” says Managing Partner Donnie Hutcherson.

Unusual in its commitment to remaining a local firm, HHM passes on offers to merge with larger national firms.

“Mergers and acquisitions are huge in our industry right now,” Hutcherson says. “Although we’ve been given many chances to merge, that’s not our plan. We expanded into the Memphis area in 2015, but we remain a Chattanooga-based firm with a focus on serving our community.”

“Chattanooga is rich in great organizations and our financial support follows our personal involvement,” Hutcherson says.

HHM offers big firm resources as an independent founding member of BDO Alliance, USA, which enables the firm to provide clients with knowledge from the world’s fifth largest accounting and consulting network of more than 160 CPA firms nationwide.

HHM Partner Trip Farmer heads up the alliance relationship, and facilitates the firm’s involvement in the city’s startup community. 

“We donate many hours to downtown’s CO.LAB and CO.STARTERS as well as the Tennessee Small Business Development Center on the Northshore. We have a great relationship with the Chamber’s INCubator and are excited to see this city grow its entrepreneurs and startups,” Farmer says.

In addition to supporting startups, HHM serves its traditional clients, forming a diverse base for growing the city’s next generation of business leaders.

“We encourage and support staff involvement in the community, especially through programs like Leadership Chattanooga, YPAC, Protégé, United Way and Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute,” Hutcherson says. “Leadership training is essential, and it’s a passion for us to help mentor young professionals in Chattanooga.” 

YMCA Boosts our Community

A vital part of the community since 1871, YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga collected the nonprofit Small Business Award in 2009.

For the past three years, Janet Dunn has headed the Y as the first female CEO in the organization’s history.

“People sometimes think we’re just a gym, and though that’s a very visible piece of what we do, we’re so much more,” Dunn says. 

Besides health and fitness activities, the Y provides child care, day camps, youth sports and various other programs for youth, families and healthy living.

 The Y works with 75 community partners to provide services at 120 program sites in seven counties, and in 2015 provided $1.3 million in financial assistance for Y programs and services.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” Dunn says. “If, for example, parents want to enroll their child in preschool but can’t quite afford it, we reduce the costs as needed to get that child there.

“Healthy living is a major focus for us right now. We’re constantly looking for the needs of our community – what’s missing that other organizations aren’t fulfilling right now?”   

One example of this, the Y’s Mobile Market grocery store, makes weekly visits to communities lacking nutritious food options. Other healthy living programs, like Livestrong for cancer survivors, Pedaling for Parkinson’s and Diabetes Prevention, help people struggling with or working to prevent a range of health issues.

“These programs impact lives – I recently heard one of our Diabetes Prevention Program participants give testimony to the program, and choking up,” Dunn says.

“This guy was overweight and prediabetic, but he didn’t want that to be his story. This program helped him drop 40 pounds, he’s not taking any medication for this and doesn’t miss a day of physical activity now. He told us through tears, ‘You guys don’t realize what a difference this is making.’ ”

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