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Community Leaders Honored at Chamber’s annual Small Business Awards Celebration

On Wednesday, May 22, three area professionals were honored by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce at the annual Small Business Awards Celebration for their exemplary leadership, innovative spirit and unwavering dedication to our community. Recipients of each award are selected from nominations submitted by the Chamber membership and evaluated by past honorees.

Jeff Parker, owner of Parker Real Estate, was named the Raymon Baker – John Cook - Ralph Jones Small Business Person of the Year; Philip Wright, owner of The Wright Bunch team brokered by MeritHouse Realty, was named the Arthur Orr Young Professional of the Year; and Larry Payne, Director of Development at the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation, was named the Lynn C. Fowler Non-Profit Professional of the Year. The luncheon was held at the Doubletree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront.

Jeff Parker currently serves as the founder and CEO of Parker Real Estate in Decatur. He is responsible for oversight of the firm's brokerage and development efforts. A Decatur native and Austin High School graduate, he began his entrepreneurial journey via an automotive collision repair business with his father. Jeff later discovered his passion for real estate brokerage and development in the early 2000s and formed Parker Real Estate shortly thereafter in 2005.

Jeff has deep ties to numerous organizations within the community and has served on the boards of Decatur Heritage Christian Academy, The Enrichment Center, and First American Bank in addition to chairing the finance committee at First Baptist Church of Decatur. He served as Board Chairman of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce from 2015-2016. Jeff currently participates as a mentor for the Decatur Morgan CEO program and enjoys guiding students toward both personal and professional success. He is married to Cathy, and they have 4 children.

After years in management in the hospitality industry, Philip Wright decided to make a career change into real estate in 2021. He quickly rose to one of the top producers in North Alabama selling over 25 million dollars and over 100 homes in his career. He is now Team Lead/Owner of The Wright Bunch team brokered by MeritHouse Realty. He also serves as Director of Agent Development for MeritHouse Realty while continually helping his clients buy and sell properties. He is currently the Treasurer of the Morgan County Association of REALTORS and serves on multiple committees within the Association.

As a devoted husband, foster parent and youth pastor, Philip actively contributes to the betterment of the community. Philip and his wife, Vickie, ensure their home is a sanctuary for children in need. Philip serves as a Commodore for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and is a recent graduate of the Chamber’s Excellence in Leadership program. He also serves on the Old State Bank Committee, Republican Executive Committee and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Decatur and the Elks Lodge.

Larry Payne is the Director of Development for the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation. He was born and raised in Florida, attended the University of Florida for his undergraduate degree and Florida State University for graduate school. In 1992, he moved to Decatur, intending it to be a temporary stay. However, 32 years later, he is still in Decatur, having dedicated his entire tenure to Decatur Morgan Hospital, primarily working in the Foundation department.

During his time with the hospital and the Foundation, he has successfully helped raise several million dollars through campaigns to build or renovate the Emergency Department, Women’s Center, 4th Floor and the former Oncology Center. He is responsible for the dragon boat races in Decatur. This event alone raised more than $1 million for the Foundation in its first nine years. Larry is married to Jessica, the Executive Director of the Community Free Clinic, and they have two sons, Devan and Bryce.

During the event, we celebrated members who have reached significant milestone anniversaries. The Chamber’s 2023-2024 Excellence in Leadership graduates were also recognized as part of the program. They presented a check to the Decatur Morgan Hospital - West Campus Children’s Behavioral Health Unit. The class raised over $9,600 dollars for their community project, a charity cornhole tournament held last month. Additionally, we applauded the young entrepreneurs from the Decatur Morgan CEO program for their documentary on the $1 to $100 Challenge.

Thank you to our presenting sponsor King Insurance Agency and gold sponsors MB Electric, Inc. and Renasant Bank.



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