Walter Perry, district director for the Small Business Administration (SBA) for Tennessee, will offer the keynote address at the 2013 Mel Bedwell Small Business Person of the Year Award luncheon on Monday, May 6.
The luncheon kicks off Small Business Month celebrated by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Perry was appointed as the senior representative for the SBA in Tennessee in January 2010. With a staff of 12 based in Nashville and Memphis, Mr. Perry leads the Tennessee District in facilitating loans to small businesses through lending institutions, advocating federal government contracting opportunities for small businesses, and working with local communities in all 95 Tennessee counties on entrepreneurial development and growth opportunities.
Mr. Perry is a veteran of over 20 years of federal experience, most recently serving in East Tennessee for the past 15 years at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge complex. During this time, he held the positions of deputy director of public affairs and community relations manager, where he was responsible for advocating science, environmental management and national security mission activities to the public, media and elected officials for a federal operation employing over 13,000 people with an annual budget of over $3 billion.
Mr. Perry holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin. While operating a small business, he also earned a bachelor of science degree and a master of education degree, both from North Carolina State University. He also holds an associate of applied science degree from Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tn.
The Bedwell Award luncheon also honors an outstanding small business person in Cleveland and Bradley County for their success in six areas: staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales, innovativeness of product or service offered, response to adversity, and evidence of contributions to the community.
This annual event, sponsored by the Chamber’s Small Business Committee, will be held at the Museum Center at 5ive Points. The Chamber Board renamed the Small Business Person of the Year Award to honor the memory of Mel Bedwell, who was known for his energy, determination, ingenuity, honesty, enthusiasm and loyalty—all traits necessary for a successful small business owner. Mel was an owner with Jack Smith of Cleveland Business Machines.
Tickets to the event are available by calling the Chamber office at 472-6587 or by registering online through the events calendar at www.clevelandchamber.com. Single tickets are $20, and corporate tables of eight are $175.