Fort Worth, TX. — 6th Ave Homes, a one-stop shop for buying, selling, designing and renovating homes and buildings, received the 2019 Grand Forte Small Business of the Year during Mayor Betsy Price’s State of the City luncheon Feb. 19 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Mayor Price, a small business owner before her municipal and mayoral careers, said “I’m so excited the Chamber showcases small business. I owned one for 17 years. I know your pain. Nobody knows the labor you’re putting into it except you.”

6th Avenue Homes, co-founded by musician Jamey Ice and detective Jimmy Williams in 2016, has a team of agents, guides, designers and contractors, to make the design or renovate process simple and easy. What began with just one agent and one contractor grew to 22 people in a year. In 2018, they had 35 team members.

Ice said the preparation work to enter the Forte Awards competition was helpful. “Distilling it on paper helped us communicate what we do,” he said. “People in this room who love Fort Worth, ya’ll are making our city great and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

The 4 Eleven, where three other businesses won a Forte Award for their respective categories on January 24, is illustrative of the work 6th Ave Homes produces. An abandoned warehouse, the 4 Eleven now serves as an event venue on the Near Southside.

Ice said he expects 6th Ave Homes to get away from an 80-90 percent residential mix to a more even mix of commercial and residential work. 6th Ave already is working a building on South Jennings and another retail site on Magnolia Avenue. “We’ll add property acquisition, too. All this in the next 3-to-4 years.”

“Small businesses are a key indicator of a region’s economic health,” said Jarred Howard, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President – Small Business & Entrepreneur.  “The Forte Awards gives us a platform to showcase and promote some of the incredible work they do.”

For the first time, the competition – formerly called Small Business of the Year — was categorized by industry and not the number of employees. Categories were Emerging Business, Manufacturing/Distribution, Consumer/Retail and Professional Services.

How the judges measured success remained the same: business growth and performance, sound business strategies and practices, customer service strategies, business challenges, unique and innovative approaches, and community involvement.

The award was renamed the Forte as a play on the city’s name as well as recognizing a person’s strong suit, talent and skill.

Twelve category finalists were judged on their written applications and site visits by business owners and professionals who are members of the Chamber, and graduate students from TCU’s Neeley School of Business. The Grand Forte recipient was chosen by a blue ribbon committee of Chamber investors.

Bank of Texas was Presenting Sponsor of the competition and event. Other sponsors included CliftonLarsonAllen, TCU Neeley School of Business, Wells Fargo, WeWork and media sponsor, Fort Worth Business Press.