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November 14, 2012

Kruer Scott, Martin-Dawkins lead LEADS awards

JEFFERSONVILLE —  Local entrepreneurs got their chance to shine Wednesday at the Leaders in Entrepreneurship Awards Day Southern Indiana, or LEADS, at Kye’s II in Jeffersonville.

The LEADS, held by the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center, recognized outstanding small business owners and entrepreneurs for their achievements, with 60 businesses nominated in nine categories from 12 counties. Small businesses and businesspeople based in Clark and Floyd Counties took home the bulk of the awards.

Two of the three LEADS Champion Awards went to local businesspeople. Le Anne Kruer Scott, senior vice president at of Your Community Bank in Jeffersonville, topped the bill as the Financial Services Champion of the Year for her volunteer work on three revolving-loan funds. Two of those funds are through the City of Jeffersonville, while the third is the Horseshoe Revolving Loan Fund. Kruer Scott spoke about her passion for helping Southern Indiana thrive in new business in a video shown during the awards banquet.

“I love people, and more than that I love connecting people,” Kruer Scott said. “That’s why I get up every morning.”

Kimberly Martin-Dawkins took home the Women in Business Champion of the Year award. Martin-Dawkins is the vice president and branch manager of the State Street PNC Bank branch, and volunteers with Business and Professional Women of New Albany and the DICE Conference, which serves female, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.

“As a banker, and also with my affiliation with the Diversity Conference, really, after we build that relationship, it’s really their baby and mine too,” Martin-Dawkins said.

Additionally, three of the six LEADS business awards went to area businesses. Schimpff’s Confectionery of Jeffersonville was chosen as the Family-Owned Business of the Year.

“Each generation has changed the business somewhat, so our legacy, I guess, is the demonstration area,” Jill Schimpff said. “We’d always dreamed of having people see, watch us make candy, and now that’s possible.”

The Indiana University Southeast Entrepreneurial Success Award was awarded to L&D Mail Masters, owned by Diane Fischer of New Albany. Fischer started the company in her garage, and today it’s a major independent employer.

“I started with a table and a telephone, and woke up that morning thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’” Fischer said. “I was a little frightened, I have to say, but honestly there was a lot of excitement at that point on what I was going to do with my life.”

Lisa Brooking of True Colors Tanning earned the Small Business Person of the Year Award, which received the most nominations of any awards category at LEADS. Brooking is involved with Southern Indiana Goodwill, Silver Creek Little League and the Horseshoe Revolving Loan Fund.

“I think my passion for people and my passion for customer service has really been the biggest success for us, because small businesses, we’re local people,” Brooking said. “We have a large competitor chain in this market. They’re good people with a great operation, but they’re not down here talking to small businesses or counseling small businesses or sitting on boards, doing those things. We’re feeding our time back into the community that built us.”

The award recipients weren’t the only local businesspeople honored at the banquet. Techshot CEO and President Mark Deuser delivered the keynote speech at the luncheon, discussing his company’s ups and downs over its 25-plus-year history. Based in Floyds Knobs, Techshot is a key contractor to NASA, the military and several commercial customers.

Deuser spoke about the importance of passion, planning, perserverance, persistence and personnel in entrepreneurship, and highlighted the importance of each as he discussed the highs and lows of his company’s past.

“It’s like the adrenaline rush you get riding a rollercoaster,” Deuser said when describing entrepreneurship.

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