After a robust two weeks of online voting, the results have been tabulated for The New Tri-State Defender's 2nd Annual Best in Black Awards.
On Saturday at the FedExForum, the winners will be revealed during a gala affair spotlighting area favorites among African-American businesses, community organizations and entrepreneurs.
TSD President/Publisher Bernal E. Smith II said 125,800 votes were cast at www.bestinblackawards.com from Sept. 11th through the Sept. 22 cutoff. The voting followed a two-week nomination period that yielded nearly 700 nominations (more than double last year) across 57 categories.
"It's a creative way to poll the community about the businesses, organizations and individuals that they most support while identifying those entities with the best brands and reputations or greatest potential," said Smith, who came up with the idea.
"In a city like Memphis, which has an over 70 percent African-American population, a robust business, non-profit and entrepreneurial community, and a deep well of culture and history, creating this sort of platform was something that was truly long overdue," said Smith.
The online survey asked questions designed to yield answers to inquiries such as these:
"Who has the best hot wings in Memphis?"
"What about Soul food?"
"What is the Best Barber Shop in Memphis?"
"What about Beauty Salon?"
"What Nail Salon tops all others?"
The BIB Awards mission is to celebrate African-American-owned and supported businesses and individuals in the Mid-South, serving as a marketing and recognition platform for those same companies and individuals while ultimately encouraging the community's next generation of leaders. Smith said The BIB Awards also give the community a true voice in identifying and elevating those businesses most deserving of the community's support.
"I've observed similar platforms done by other publications in the area and they all seem to mostly exclude the majority of African-American-owned companies, which are mostly service and retail-related businesses," said Smith.
"It is our intention to build a dynamic annual 'contest' and event in which the Greater Memphis community can both anticipate and participate each year and be incredibly proud in doing so."
The top three vote getters in each of the top 25 most popular categories have been invited to the Best in Black Awards Show and the VIP Pre-Show on Friday (Sept 27th) at the TSD's downtown office on Beale Street.
Doors for the black-carpet, black-tie awards show will open at 6 p.m. The TSD will host a black carpet interview and photo session for nominees, sponsors and special guests, with the show set to begin promptly at 7 p.m.
Sponsors include Allstate Insurance (Cynthia Scales), Cigna, Service Master, and Trust One Bank. Other supporters include Olympic Financial Empowerment Centers, SubRoy Dance Studio, Felecia Bean Catering and Real Times Media, Inc. Limited sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available.
For details, visit www.bestinblackawards.com or call 901-523-1818.