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Filed 4/13/06  GCN

Today seven Mississippi businesses were recognized by the Small Business Administration for outstanding acts of volunteerism following hurricanes Katrina and Rita as part of the 2006 Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.  These awards were presented during a two-day conference focused on small business accomplishments and showcased those businesses recovering from disasters.

"I am delighted to see these businesses rewarded for their volunteer efforts in the aftermath of these devastating hurricanes," Governor Barbour said.  "It gives me great hope to see these companies come together to help our state in its toughest moment.  They have truly exemplified Mississippi's resilient and hospitable spirit."

The following businesses were selected as recipients of the SBA awards for 2006:

* WQRZ Radio in Bay St. Louis received the Phoenix Award for "Outstanding Contribution to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer" for small business disaster recovery.

* Hancock County Chamber of Commerce received the Phoenix Award for "Outstanding Contribution to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official" for small business disaster recovery.

"These individuals displayed tremendous courage and selflessness in the midst of the most devastating disasters in U.S. history," said SBA Administrator Hector V. Barreto. "The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of their heroic efforts, and a token of appreciation for their support of the physical and economic recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast and Florida."

Letitia H. Willams, Executive Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, received the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official. After the Hancock County
Chamber of Commerce offices were destroyed when Hurricane Katrina struck, Williams met with state officials and asked for help. She acquired a temporary space for the chamber, secured Internet access, computers and phones, and found benefactors -- other chambers of commerce nationwide -- to "adopt" Hancock County and assist in the rebuilding of the county's business infrastructure. Despite losing her home, Williams worked tirelessly, helping local businesses take the first steps toward recovery.

Brice Phillips, of WQRZ Radio received the Phoenix Award for his Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer. As Hurricane Katrina approached the Mississippi Coast,  Phillips loaded his van with transmitters and extra antennas and relocated WQRZ radio to the county's emergency operations center. As the storm surge waters reached the building's second level, Phillips braved the elements and rigged his car batteries to power the station's broadcasting of search and rescue information. WQRZ was one of only four Gulf Coast radio stations that stayed on the air in the early days after Katrina struck.

NVision Solutions Inc., based at the NASA Stennis Space Center, was selected as the SBA "State Winner." NVision provides a full range of GIS, Remote Sensing, and Database services and application development.

Viking Range Corporation, of Greenwood; The Rogue & Good Company, LLC, of Jackson; Gulf Hills Hotel & Conference Center, of Ocean Springs; and KLLM Transport Services, of Richland, all received the American Spirit Award for volunteerism in disaster areas that were impacted by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, or Wilma.

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