The J. Alton Wingate Economic Partnership Award was presented by ACE to JPMorgan Chase at its annual awards ceremony. The award was presented to Rey Curva, Georgia market manager for Chase Business Banking by representatives of Equity ATL and Ascend Atlanta — two recent collaboratives Chase has funded in Georgia to help expand access to capital, training and market for small business owners. (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)


ACE held its annual awards celebration on Oct. 3 to celebrate both small-business owners who have excelled in entrepreneurial leadership and its exemplary partners.

“Our drive at ACE is to build meaningful relationships with entrepreneurs in the community,” said Grace Fricks, president and CEO of ACE. “As we work closely with entrepreneurs, we can’t help but notice those who stand out. That’s one reason we honor them with recognition. The same goes for the partner organizations that share our vision to provide capital, coaching and connections. We couldn’t reach our ongoing goals of helping the community without their support.”

When ACE provides a loan that supports a business which creates or sustains jobs, Georgia’s economy is strengthened. ACE’s vision is to create a ripple effect that not only has a positive impact on the individuals it serves directly, but also on their families, their employees and their communities.

“These awards reflect a strong commitment to entrepreneurship, community and service by our clients and business associates, and we are delighted to celebrate their many successes from this past year,” added Fricks.

The awards and award winners announced and honored at the luncheon event included:

J. Alton Wingate Economic Partnership Award (a.k.a. the Wingate Workhorse Award) to JPMorgan Chase for investing in Georgia’s small businesses and neighborhoods. Rey Curva, business banking market manager at JPMorgan Chase, accepted this award, which honors an organization that has furthered ACE’s mission in a substantial way through contributions or investments. (Pictured above)

(L-R) Matthew Bozzelli of Southern Company and ACE’s Governing Board Chair; TJ Kaikobad, Cyra’s; Sandy Headley, ACE Vice President; and Danielle Kaikobad, Cyra’s. (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)

Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Cyra’s – Simple Goodness, accepted by TJ and Danielle Kaikobad (Dalton, GA)

Cyra’s is a full service, casual fine dining restaurant owned by TJ and Danielle Kaikobad. They serve farm to table, locally sourced natural, no added growth hormone, antibiotic free, freshly prepared food. The restaurant opened in the fall of 2016 with a small business loan from ACE of $50,000, created 18 jobs and generated revenues of $750,000 their first 12 months in business. Now they have 46 employees and are on tract to $1.2MM in revenues. In fall of 2017, they opened a 2nd restaurant in Dalton, Baja Coop. They self-funded this restaurant which now has 12 employees and is on track for $300,000 in revenues.  Next month they will open Diana’s Italian Kitchen along with a Wine, Whiskey and Tapas Room in Dalton. This will create an additional 35-40 jobs. They are true entrepreneurs and proof that access to capital goes a long way and gives back in so many ways.

(L-R) Matthew Bozzelli of Southern Company and ACE’s Governing Board Chair; Wilson Pupuche and Luis F. Reyes, Fernando’s Parts and Services, Inc.; Antonio Barrios, ACE Commercial Loan Officer. (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)

Commercial Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Luis F. Reyes and Wilson Pupuche of Fernando’s Parts & Services, Inc. (Chamblee, GA)

With hard work, honesty and integrity, Luis F. Reyes purchased an existing tire company and turned it into a thriving auto parts service. When the owner of the premises where he was located decided to retire and sell, this gave Mr. Reyes and his business partner, Wilson Pupuche, owner of Pupuche Transportation Inc., the opportunity to purchase their building. The purchase of the facility not only guaranteed the continuation of Fernando’s Parts & Services and Pupuche Transportation, but also that of the other tenants in the building. At ACE, we are very proud to be a part of their story – preserving businesses with the purchase of their building made a difference in their community – generating more opportunities for employment in the growing Hispanic community. Through our Hispanic Initiative, we have provided over $4 million dollars to Hispanic businesses and we look forward to continuing to assist them grow and expand.

(L-R) Matthew Bozzelli of Southern Company and ACE’s Governing Board Chair; Ardina Pierre of Nature’s Own Herb Shop; Linda Jameson, ACE Consultant (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)

Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award to Ardina Theresa Pierre, ND of Nature’s Own Herb Shop, Inc. (Hapeville, GA)

Ardina Pierre and Nature’s Own Herb Shop celebrate 23 years in business this month! Ardina provides natural products (including vitamins, supplements, personal care merchandise, and organic juices and smoothies) along with expert one-on-one advice to help her customers maintain good health.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Kennesaw State University, her Certified Natural Health Professional (CNHP) designation from Trinity School of Natural Health, and in 2017 was granted her Board Certification as a Naturopathic Doctor. Her first loan with ACE was in 2010 for $35,000 in working capital.  Since then she has remained a loyal client, continues to make improvements to her business, has purchased her building, and is currently in the process of paying back her 5th loan with ACE.  During this time her revenues have grown 71% and her profits 311%!

(L-R) Matthew Bozzelli of Southern Company and ACE’s Governing Board Chair; Talia Holmes of Sweet Joy Ice Cream Bar; Alejandra Diaz, ACE Women’s Business Center (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)

Women’s Business Center Client of the Year Award to Talia Holmes of Sweet Joy Ice Cream Bar (Lawrenceville, GA)

Talia Holmes’ first exposure to the ACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) was attending a workshop.  She wanted to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship and needed capital. She took advantage of all the services offered by the WBC: one-on-one consultations with a business coach, attended workshops, and followed our recommendations step by step. In December 2018, after obtaining funding through ACE, she opened the doors of Sweet Joy Ice Cream Bar in Lawrenceville and is taking advantage of ACE’s Business Advisory Services, always listening to the advice that the ACE staff is providing her along the journey.

(L-R) Matthew Bozzelli of Southern Company and ACE’s Governing Board Chair; Mayor Craig L. Newton, City of Norcross; Sandra Font, Director, ACE Women’s Business Center (Photo credit: © 2019 Erik Voss)

Women’s Business Center Partner of the Year Award to City of Norcross, accepted by Mayor Craig L. Newton

The ACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) presents their Partner of the Year award annually to an entity that promotes entrepreneurship and provides business development resources and community economic development in Georgia. This year the award went to the City of Norcross with Mayor Craig L. Newton accepting on their behalf.  In 2015, the City extended an invitation for the ACE WBC to move into the Norcross Cultural and Community Arts Center downtown.  Since then the WBC has served over 5,000 individuals through training and one-on-one consultations. Throughout the years, the WBC staff has provided support and assistance to the entrepreneurs in Norcross by collaborating with City of Norcross Economic Development. The relationship with the department has evolved year after year, receiving referrals from them, support promoting our services, connections with entrepreneurs and other business establishments in the area, and collaborating with partner organizations with the focus of promoting the economic development of Norcross and its residents.

Since starting his term, Mayor Newton has made economic prosperity a high priority. Utilizing his political-will and wide network of business leaders and elected officials, he consistently advocates for more opportunities in Norcross including creating more jobs, start-up and entrepreneur opportunities, business recruitment, along with major redevelopment and business expansion projects. He has helped guide several multi-million-dollar redevelopment projects in the city in his short term as Mayor.

The luncheon was made possible through the generous support of ACE’s sponsors. ACE is able to make such an impact on the community because of key partnerships like these:



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