STEPHEN HEMELT — Orange County small business owners, champions celebrated for major impacts

Published 7:11 am Friday, May 12, 2023

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Big business investment, construction in all directions and the promise of jobs to come.

Take a drive through Orange County these days — which means dodging heavy machinery — and you’ll see the economic push being led by some major brand names.

Yet, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Small businesses and local entrepreneurs still provide the backbone that drives the economy here at home.

That was celebrated recently during the Small Business Annual Awards Banquet hosted by The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Lamar State College Port Arthur.

The SBDC’s focus area includes Bridge City, Orange and Vidor, as well as surrounding municipalities.

SBDC Executive Director Dana Espinal hosted the annual event to celebrate local professionals and small businesses.

“It is important to highlight achievements in our community, which encourages continued economic development,” she said.

Some of the leaders of these local institutions offered insights to their success.

The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year was Innovative Air Solutions.

Founder Robert Currie said, “we’ve been blessed beyond anything. I feel like I owe this community, because this community has supported me and my family for many years. We love the people in this community. You could not find a better place to live.”

The Vidor Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year was Texas Built Cabinets.

Owner Crystal Shafer said, “we build cabinets, and we build them well. We provide fantastic customer service and we guide you through the process of designing, building, installation and any other support you may need.”

The Bridge City Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year was Total Impressions Cryotherapy Wellness Center.

“We felt very blessed and honored to receive the award, as there are many great businesses that serve our community,” owner Terri Gauthier said.

“I started doing wigs because I had a best friend and sister-in-law go through breast cancer, and losing their hair was a big hurdle to get over. I knew how important it was for them to find something to make them feel good.”

Proficio Surgical Assistants was named Small Business Development Center Service Business of the Year.

“We have been very blessed for the success our company has had in such a relatively short amount of time. The company is adding three new contracts in Northwest Houston, and we are also looking to expand in Dallas,” CEO Kirk Pruitt said.

The Small Business Development Center’s Small Business Champion of the Year was Orange Chamber President Ida Schossow, who said, “just being able to help the businesses is what I would say is the most rewarding thing.”

Orange Leader marketing consultant Clark Marshall and myself were lucky enough to attend the banquet in person.

We watched as each of the recognized community leaders above were awarded special recognitions and enjoyed a video presentation of their acceptance speeches.

It was a wonderful night celebrating the people and hard work that makes Orange County and Southeast Texas a special place.

And, things are just getting started.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader, and Orange Living Magazine. He can be reached at