Top local business people, students honored


Area business leaders and students were recognized at the recent 2003 Business Visions banquet, held on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The annual awards honor top students at UNC Pembroke and business leaders whose leadership and innovations have greatly contributed to the community.

Koji Sado     Tabatha Ransom
Koji Sado and Tabatha Ransom, co-winners of the Outstanding Business Student of the Year award

In its eighth year, Business Visions is sponsored by UNCP's Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development and the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center.

Luckey Welsh Jr., chief executive office of Southeastern Regional Medical Center, was named Business Person of the Year for his work in planning the expansion of SRMC facilities and programs.

"Too many people have to share rooms when they stay at Southeastern Regional Medical Center," Welsh said. "We have raised $4.5 million so far to build a six-story bed tower so each patient will have a private room."

David Stephenson of S&P Tobacco Marketing of Lumberton received the Spirit of Unity award for helping to lead the effort to gain federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe.

Junfeng Wang 

"Susie" Junfeng Wang (right), Outstanding MPA Student of the Year, with Nick Giannatasio

"I'm happy to have been a part of all the excitement and support for the Lumbee Tribe," Stephenson said. "Every time we gathered to show support, you could feel the energy from everyone involved."

Scotland Aero Services, Inc. was awarded as Entrepreneur of the Year for its successful year at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport. Co-owners Randy Hoffman and John McRae remembered Sept. 11 and what it meant for their business. The company operates the aviation portion of the combined airport and industry park.

"They grounded all planes for days, but instead of giving up, we wrote letters and received financial support that has helped us continue in our success," Hoffman said.

Four business students from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke received awards.

Koji Sado of Detroit, Mich., and Tabatha Ransom of Clarkton were co-winners of the Outstanding Business Student of the Year award.

 MBA students of year

Nick Arena (center), Outstanding MBA Student of the Year, with Sharon Bell and Howard Brooks

Junfeng Wangreceived the Outstanding Master of Public Administration Student of the Year award, and Nick Arena, general manager of Acme Electric's Lumberton facility, received the Outstanding Master of Business Administration Student of the Year award.

Dr. Collie Coleman, vice chancellor for Outreach for UNCP, introduced J. Phillip Horne, executive vice president of a new non-profit organization that will fine-tune the business leadership of eastern North Carolina to stimulate the economy.

"Nine of the 20 poorest counties in North Carolina are east of I-95." Horne said. "The Foundation of Renewal for Eastern North Carolina will build a leadership base uniting the 41 counties east of I-95, so we can more efficiently and effectively lead the area into a better economy."

Sheri Sides in a senior Mass Communications major from Laurinburg.