19th annual Jewel Awards honors business owners

EAST JACKSON, Tenn. — Hundreds filled the Oman Arena Friday night for the Jewel Awards.

Members from the Jackson-Madison County African American Chamber of Commerce honored outstanding black business leaders for the 19th annual banquet.

“You got to recognize your own because why would you expect someone else to recognize you,” said executive director of the JMCAAC Florence Howard.

Awards were given to both new and seasoned businesses.

This year’s co-hosts, Johnetta and Tony Black, were the very first Jewel Award winners.

“It was really rewarding and exciting for us to receive an award and be recognized, so that’s why I want to make sure that I stay involved and others can experience that experience that we had,” said Johnetta Black.

This year’s show closer was a concert by nationally-televised talent show winner Evvie Mckinney.

Evvie is the season one winner of ‘The Four: Battle of Stardom.’

She explains why the Jewel Awards’ effort to help children become entrepreneurs motivated her to participate.

“Anybody that supports our youth, anybody that supports our community in a positive way, I want to be apart of that because that is life changing,” said McKinney.

Evvie also has a message for anyone pursing a dream, whether that’s business or the big stage.

“They would always tell me no, but that was just preparation for that one yes, because that’s all it takes,” said McKinney.

This year the Jewel Awards is raising money for the chamber’s ‘Follow Me Into Business’ youth development program.

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