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Local Small Businesses Honored

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This Friday, May 11 is the end of Small Business Week in Florida’s Capital City. The observance will conclude at Florida State University’s Turnbull Center where four local small businesses will be honored during a noon awards luncheon.

Keith Bowers, director of the Small Business Development Center at Florida A&M University, says former Florida State University Professor Jim Zheng built his General Capacitor firm from a vastly improved electrical storage technology.

“He developed this concept and he’s making waves in the Defense Department. He and his team are the recipients of the Startup Business of the Year Award.”

Bowers said the “Out of the Box Business of the Year Award” is going to FAMU Freshman Elijah Rutledge. As an artistic young kid, he persuaded his dad to buy him a battered pair of old Nike sneakers from the neighborhood Goodwill store.

“He painted them and designed them based on one of his sketches, went on social media, put the product out there and it sold within a couple of days and from that he was inspired to start a business out of his bedroom in the tenth grade,” Bowers recounted.

Now Rutledge is doing album cover art for Chance the Rapper amongst other pursuits. This year’s “Community Champion Award” goes to Alsco, the linen and uniform rental company.

“They do all the linen and laundry for the Kearney Center at no cost,” Bowers explained.

As to the final award, it goes to:

“The owners of Jersey Mike’s, Mr. (Angelo) Crowell and his wife Kimberly, since he opened his first store here in 2010, he’s gone on to open 12 other stores throughout the country. He and his wife are recipients of the ‘Business of the Year Award.’”

The Small Business Week Awards luncheon is sponsored by a wide coalition of private and public organizations each year.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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