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2023 Small Business Person of the Year



Sasa Mandrapa of Burger & Bowl was named the 2023 Small Business Person of the Year, presented by the Chamber and German American Bank. Sasa has an incredible work ethic, commitment, and passion for business and his community. He is a leader and someone who is highly motivated but still displays humility and instills confidence in others. Tenacity, perseverance, creativity, imagination, and expert problem solver are some words used to describe him. His business growth is significant, has had a definite impact on the labor force in our area, and offers opportunities to the culturally diverse.

He first came to the United States in 1996 as a refugee from Bosnia that did not speak English. He now owns six restaurants in Bowling Green.

Since 1985, the Chamber has named a community member the Small Business Person of the Year annually. The award recognizes a business leader who:

• Owns and operates a for-profit company that employs 100 or fewer full-time employees
• Has invested his or her own money in that small business
• Has experienced recent business growth
• Is involved in the development and growth of the Bowling Green community

This year’s 2023 Small Business Person of the Year nominees included:
• Thomas Birkenhauer & Dr. Andrew Burt, Bluegrass Oral Health Care
• Justin Gearlds, RENEW by Optimum Rejuvenation
• Jackie & Jeff Green, Jeff Green Home Improvements, LLC
• Susan Hoechner, Barbara Stewart Interiors
• Sasa Mandrapa, The Bistro, Burger & Bowl, Novo Dolce, Speeza, The Pub by Novo, and Toro.
• Ada Beth Oliver, Oliver Creative
• Spence Sheldon, Donatos Pizza

Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch stated, “The selection committee is presented with a difficult decision each year as they navigate through an impressive list of nominees. The small business community boasts a group of outstanding entrepreneurs who represent the highest level of quality. It is with great pride that the Chamber recognizes its leadership through this prestigious award. The contribution of small businesses is invaluable to the Chamber’s partnership, accounting for more than 85 percent of our collaborative efforts.”

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