The Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) announced the finalists for the 18th annual Pinnacle, Advocate and Upstart Awards at its VIP nominee reception on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, at Column A, 1512 Austin St.

Since 1935, the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce has served as an advocate for African American business owners and professionals in the greater Houston metropolitan area. The organization’s mission and vision have flourished, reflecting the needs and growth of its members.

The 2012 Pinnacle Award finalists include: Beacon Home Health Agency LLC; DigiStor, dba Smahrt Solutions; Dr. Heather Brown; Elite Change; and Lamik Beauty.

Pinnacle Awards gala chair, Vernita Harris, addressed the well-attended VIP reception and announced that the event “will return to its roots at the renovated Power Center.  The Chamber is going to walk the walk in supporting African American business. It just makes sense to spend our money in places that have historically supported us. When we look at what we’ve been spending at hotels throughout the city, it’s only right to take that money back to our original location.”

The winners will be feted during the 18th annual Pinnacle Awards Black-Tie Gala on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at 7:00 p.m. at the Power Center. William F. Pickard, Ph.D., CEO of Global Automotive Alliance, will be the keynote speaker.

HCCC chairman, William Traylor, a regional executive for AT&T Business Solutions; and Cary Yates, SVP of market growth and development for Wells Fargo also addressed the audience on the importance and need to not only be familiar with upstart businesses, but to support their continued success. Annette Cluff, superintendent of the Varnett Public Schools and one of the honorary chairs, encouraged collaboration between and mentoring of small businesses and announced that United Airlines will serve as the official sponsor of the 2012 Pinnacle Awards.