Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce Announces 2021 ATHENA and 2021 Small Business Person of the Year

Published Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Bowling Green, Ky. (April 27, 2021) - Today the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce awarded two prestigious awards to outstanding business people in our community: 2021 Small Business Person of the Year and the 2021 ATHENA Recipient.
Julie Milam of WNKY-TV was named the 36th recipient of the ATHENA Award presented by the Chamber and Martin Dodge Jeep Chrysler RAM. For over 12 years Julie has been part of the WNKY–TV Team. Julie created the motto of WNKY using just three words: “Because Local Matters.” Julie’s community and mentor leadership includes: Student Ambassador Mentor to Warren East High School’s Leadership Class and career shadowing to Warren and Barren County High Schools, as well as college students at Western Kentucky University. She is also a founding member of the Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky’s Women’s Fund. Julie became a Chamber partner in 2004, and throughout her years of partnership, she has served on the marketing committee for the Leader in Me Campaign, Small Business Appreciation Committee, retention committee, and currently sits on the Board of Directors.
“It is a wonderful day when the ATHENAs can welcome yet another example of a strong, dedicated, professional woman in our community like we see in Julie Milam,” said Tamara Vogler, 2011 ATHENA Recipient.
This year’s ATHENA nominees included:
  • Page Beard, US Bank
  • Michele Humphrey, American Bank & Trust Company, Inc.
  • Debi Wade Jordan, Community Education of Bowling Green & Warren County (Retired)
  • Julie Milam, WNKY-TV
  • Denise Mitchell, Village Manor (formerly)
  • Ashley Reynolds, Kentucky Kids on the Block
  • Mary Vitale, SKY Property Management
“The ATHENA award recognizes an individual for professional excellence, for providing valuable service to their community, and for actively helping women attain professional excellence and leadership skills.
2021 Small Business Person of the Year
Tahir Zukic, founder and owner of TAZ Trucking, Inc., was named the 2021 Small Business Person of the Year presented by the Chamber and German American Bank. Established in Bowling Green in 2004, TAZ Trucking is a fully equipped trucking and transportation company that transports dry, hazardous, and non-hazardous goods throughout the continental 48 United States. Originally from Bosnia, Tahir came to the United States in 2000 with his wife, Amira, and their two children, Erdin and Arnela. As of today, TAZ Trucking has experienced extraordinary growth with 155 employees (full-time and contract), 120 trucks, 190 trailers, and a newly-constructed 55,000 sq. foot building on 53 acres of land purchased by Tahir in Bowling Green. 
Tahir’s success has enabled him to support a number of local projects. One project includes promoting Bowling Green with rolling billboards on his TAZ Trucking trucks. Hundreds of tractor-trailers promoted Bowling Green with signs reading “Bowling Green, Kentucky – Voted Best Place to Live by Time Magazine.” 
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 2021 Small Business Person of the Year nominees included:
  • Susan Hoechner, Barbara Stewart Interiors
  • Mike Hughes, Cambridge Market & Cafe
  • Sam Kirby, Vid Monster Productions
  • Sasa Mandrapa, Burger & Bowl
  • Spence Sheldon, Donatos Pizza
  • Tahir Zukic, TAZ Trucking, Inc.
"Our selection committee is faced with an extremely tough decision each year when choosing from such strong nominees," said Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch. "The highest quality of businessmen and women represent our small business community, and we are honored to recognize their leadership through this award. Small businesses make up 85 percent of the Chamber's partnership, and we couldn't accomplish what we do without their support."
To learn more about the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, visit
About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:
Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a
5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,300 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives, and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region.