Community leaders honored at Chamber’s annual Small Business Awards Celebration
On Thursday, three area professionals were honored by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce at the annual Small Business Awards Celebration for their innovation, creativity and commitment to our city’s quality of life.
Ellen Didier, founder and president of Red Sage Communications was named the Raymon Baker - John Cook - Ralph Jones Small Business Person of the Year; John Joseph, IV, director of Decatur Corridor Development, Inc., was named the Arthur Orr Young Professional of the Year; and the Rev. Larry Franks, executive director of First Priority of Greater Decatur, was named the Lynn C. Fowler Non-Profit Professional of the Year. The luncheon was presented by Redstone Federal Credit Union and hosted by the Doubletree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront.
“A business community our size is incredibly fortunate to have members of the workforce who are on the leading edge in their fields, and our award winners are part of that well-deserved reputation,” said John Seymour, president and CEO of the Chamber. “Ellen, John and Larry bring to their work each day creativity and leadership that serves the needs of their community and beyond. Their footprint in Decatur can be seen each day in the people with whom they connect, and the fruits of their labor will be part of our landscape for years to come.”
Didier founded Red Sage in 2006 and has grown it to be one of the largest, most established marketing and web companies in north Alabama. With clients located across the state and throughout the southeast, their portfolio includes several medical practices and eight hospitals in the healthcare industry, economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, and tourism groups in five states and more than half the counties across Alabama, and a diverse collection of small businesses that include defense contractors, engineering companies and law firms. She and her company have been recognized with various awards. She was named the 2008 Start-Up of the Year by the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama, the 2013 Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year in Alabama, and the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year at Innovate Huntsville. Deeply involved in the community, Didier has served on and led several community non-profit boards. She is currently president of Rotary Club of Decatur, a member of the executive committee of the Calhoun Community College Foundation, and an advisory board member for the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center. A graduate of Athens State University, Didier and her family live in Decatur.
Joseph has served as director of Decatur Corridor Development, Inc., since January 2015. In the role, he’s responsible for identifying, prioritizing, and executing projects that help lay the foundation for long-term growth in the Morgan County area. With a background in development, he has focused on real estate and more than 25 projects that significantly improve quality of life and enhance economic competitiveness in our area. Among his work, he is responsible for the Best and Brightest Initiative, the first comprehensive incentive package in the country for the recruitment of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) young professionals, collaboration with the City of Decatur to become the first city in the state to take the Small Business Administration's "Startup In A Day" pledge, and coordinated the founding committee of the Alabama Arts Hall of Fame – the first in the state – and transitioned operations to The Alabama Center for the Arts. Among his numerous community service engagements, he is a member of the board of the Princess Theater Center for the Performing Arts, the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, and is a partner member of the Chamber Board of Directors. Joseph has an undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and a law degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He and his family live in Decatur.
Franks was hired to lead First Priority of Greater Decatur as executive director in 2014 after serving as its city director for the previous three years. First Priority is a Christian ministry for elementary, middle, and high school students in Morgan and Lawrence Counties. The group has grown from 18 campuses in 2010 to currently located in 52 area schools with student-led clubs meeting on a weekly basis that includes more than 6,000 students. Their goal is to empower students to make a social, moral and spiritual difference on their campus as they become leaders in their community. First Priority is a 501-c3 non-profit organization and is solely supported by individuals, businesses and churches in the community and meets before and after school hours. He and his family live in Decatur.