Companies, people honored at Business Alabama Awards

Winners in seven categories and five chosen for Lifetime Achievement were honored at a luncheon in Birmingham

Elliot B. Maisel was named CEO of the Year at the Business Alabama Awards. Photo by Art Meripol.

Winners in seven categories and five chosen for Lifetime Achievement were honored at a luncheon in Birmingham on Friday, March 1, as part of the Business Alabama Awards.

In addition, singer-songwriter and businessman Jimmy Buffett, who died in September, was honored with a special recognition award. Lucy Buffett, his sister and owner of Lulu’s, accepted his award.

Winners and finalists in the seven competitive categories were:

  • CEO of the Year ­– Elliot B. Maisel of Gulf Distributing; Finalists: Bridget McCaleb, Sentar; Tom Stanton, Adtran; Ray Watts, University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Haig Wright II, Byars|Wright and WRM Group.
  • Large Company of the Year – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; Finalists: Austal USA, BL Harbert International and Regions Financial.
  • Small Company of the Year – Thomas Accounting and Income Tax Service; Finalists: David Christopher’s, Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes, Essnova Solutions, HPM and Vanguard Pacific.
  • Alabama Expat of the Year ­– Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP; Finalists: Gen. Lloyd Austin, U.S. secretary of Defense; Noopur Davis, executive vice president, chief information security and product privacy officer, Comcast Corp.; Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; and Willie Phillips, chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • Startup of the Year – Cahaba Fire Company; Finalists: AI-Ops, Croux, Domestique Coffee and VivoSphere.
  • Project of the Year – Montgomery Whitewater; Finalists: Aerojet Rocketdyne expansion, Cerrowire expansion, City Walk BHAM, Discovery Life Sciences new global headquarters, Innovate Alabama, production of the Genesis GV70, development of the Nextec building, Tropic Falls addition to Owa Parks & Resort, USA Health’s purchase of Providence Hospital and Wicker Point Golf Club at Russell Lands.
  • Philanthropic Project of the Year – Huntsville Classic, Huntsville Hospital Foundation; Finalists: Alabama Power Foundation, Bank Independent Life Without Limits Half-Marathon, Full Moon BBQ’s Backpack Blessings and Redstone Federal Credit Union’s $2 million donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama.

Lifetime Achievement recipients were:

  • Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the SuperSoaker water gun and president and founder of Johnson Research & Development Company.
  • Don Logan, former CEO of Southern Progress, chairman of Time Warner’s Media and Communications Group and co-owner of the Birmingham Barons and the B.A.S.S. organization.
  • James W. Rane, CEO of Great Southern Wood Holdings, which includes YellaWood.
  • Frank and Pardis Stitt, owners of the Stitt Restaurant Group, which includes Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega and Chez Fonfon.

“The Business Alabama Awards are an opportunity to recognize some of the best that the Alabama business community has to offer,” said Alec Harvey, executive editor of Business Alabama magazine. “The winners and finalists show the depth and breadth of Alabama business, from North Alabama down to the Gulf Coast.”

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Business Alabama took nominations for the Business Alabama Awards, and a selection committee named a winner and finalists in each category.

For more information on the Business Alabama Awards, the winners, finalists and honorees, see the March 2024 issue of Business Alabama magazine.

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