Hudson -- The city's Business of the Year cuts hair, but it still aims to be "one of the most important businesses in the community," according to its owner.

The Hudson Economic Growth Board and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce recognized three businesses at their annual awards event Dec. 6, highlighted by the Business of the Year, Great Clips of Hudson.

Great Clips of Hudson owner Jeff Lehman accepted the award, noting that he challenges his employees to make a difference in the community.

Great Clips community projects going on now include collecting donations, and matching them up to $250, for the city's holiday lights display. The hair salon in the Acme Plaza also collects non-perishable food during the holidays and sells orange wristbands to support the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

"Doing good makes good business sense," Lehman said.

The Chamber and Economic Growth Board also picked The Gables of Hudson as the economic development project of the year, and Catastrophe Management Solutions as the new business of the year.

The Gables of Hudson is a $13 million assisted living facility on Darrow Road, under construction and on schedule to open in fall 2013. The facility will employ 80 to 100 employees in management, nursing, food service and maintenance positions, said Chuck Wiedie, Hudson's economic development director.

Michael Wojno, CEO of Gables of Hudson, accepted the award. He said six years ago he was hesitant to build in the city because of Hudson's reputation for not being business-friendly, but he's the city's biggest cheerleader now.

"We promise you a world class facility," Wojno said. "We treat everyone like our own mother and father."

Carolyn Konefal, president of Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce, presented Mark Beech of Catastrophe Management Solutions the award for new business of the year.

CMS handles phone calls from people affected by a catastrophe, such as hurricanes, floods and fires.

"As weather changes, our number of employees change," Beech said. "When disasters happen, we need employees for calls."

CMS responds in 24 hours and is the first contact for anyone affected by a catastrophe, he said.

Keynote speaker

Large and small businesses will be impacted by the changes in the economy and healthcare,

Jo-Ann Stores Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Travis Smith discussed the nation's economic outlook as the keynote speaker at the awards breakfast.

Positive indicators like increased housing prices, less unemployment and increased personal savings point to an increase in consumer confidence, he said, but the market is not as positive.

"People are afraid of the fiscal cliff," according to Smith.

He said the government needs to raise revenue, spend less or do both to fix the budget and restore consumer confidence. He suggested the government collect sales tax on online purchases to add $35 billion in revenue.

However, he said, government officials in Washington don't want to talk about it.

Because his store and other retail businesses collect sales tax for online purchases, they can't compete with online businesses that don't charge sales tax.

Another way to collect revenue is to lower the 35 percent corporate tax so that businesses relocate in the U.S.

In addition, Smith would like to see charges for customers using credit and debit cards and writing checks reduced. It is the third largest expense for Jo-Ann Stores after payroll and rent, he added.


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