Pictured above – Averitt was the winner of Large Business of the Year. Kent Williams, Barry Blakely, Wayne Spain and Amy New.

Cookeville Chamber hosts 2023 annual meeting to honor local businesses, attractions and causes

Cookeville – Two titans of their respective industries were honored by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce (CPCC) Tuesday. Averitt Express was named “Large Business of the Year” while Chic-fil-A of Cookeville was honored with “Small Business of the Year” designation.

The 18th annual awards were held at the Leslie Town Centre, and Amy New, President, and CEO of CPCC says the businesses are a key piece to growth she calls “unprecedented.”

“We experienced an unprecedented year of community and economic growth for Putnam County in 2022,” said New in a statement. “We enjoyed celebrating our members, who with their continued dedication and support contributed to the overwhelming success of our community. Quality of life improvement continues to be at the forefront of all our actions, programs and goals going into 2023, and I am confident our team and loyal members will support and propel this mission for our community.”

Started in 1958 by Thurman Averitt, Livingston’s Merchant Co-op hauled dry goods primarily between Nashville and Livingston. The small company was the seed for the tree that later incorporated into Averitt Express in 1969. On a run to Nashville, Thurman met and befriended a dockworker named Gary Sasser. In Oct. of 1971, Sasser purchased Averitt Express.

At the time, Averitt had only two employees and three trucks. Averitt has since grown into one of the largest trucking companies in the nation, operating more than 40 distribution and fulfillment centers throughout the central and southern United States operating more than 40 shared space distribution and fulfillment centers and 85 locations in 18 states throughout the central and southern United States.

Chic-fil-A was the brainchild of Truett Cathy. He opened a single restaurant named Dwarf Grill, later renamed Chic-fil-A, in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Georgia. In 2003, Chic-fil-A opened the Cookeville location. 20 years later, Chic-fil-A employs 150 people.

Chick-fil-A – Small Business of the Year. Pictured is Amy New, Christina Prine and Ben Prine

During the awards, Teresa Dunn, WIN Learning Ceo, delivered the keynote address. She was named in EdDiget’s top 100 “People Making a Difference for Digital Learning Now.” According to the CPCC, Dunn is involved with several Philantropic and non-profit organizations, including fundraising for TOMS shoes, Relay for Life, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Dunn is also the chairman of the Mustard Seed Ranch board of directors and and active member of Life Church.

Annual Meeting – The Chamber awards were a roaring success.

Along with businesses of the year, awards were given to other businesses, attractions and causes.

Other winners include:

  • Attraction of the Year – Putnam County Fair.
  • Ambassador of the Year – Gina Padgett.
  • Tourism Experience of the Year (new award in 2022) – CrossFit Mayhem.

Economic Impact Award – This new award in 2022 was given to Tennessee Tech University.

Community Impact – Food to the Rescue won the community impact award.

Ascend Federal Credit Union, Averitt Express, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Twin Lakes, and Veloture sponsored the annual meeting.

Photos courtesy of Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

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