Upper Arlington News

Small Business Person of the Year

Upper Arlington resident's award win 'like Christmas'

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LORRIE CECIL/THISWEEKNEWS
Bonnie James, president and co-founder of Advanced Reading Concepts, has been named the Grandview Area Chamber of Commerce's 2013 Small Business Person of the Year.
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Speed-reading is as much about comprehension as it is technique.

For Bonnie James, president and co-founder of the Upper Arlington-based Advanced Reading Concepts, it may have taken a moment to comprehend what it meant when her name was announced last month at the Grandview Area Chamber of Commerce's Spring Cha-Ching event.

James had been selected as the chamber's 2013 Small Business Person of the Year.

"I was feeling excitement for the other people who had been given awards," James said. "I wasn't expecting anything, certainly not to win an award myself.

"I didn't even know I was nominated," she said. "My husband nominated me and didn't even tell me."

Receiving the award "felt like it was Christmas morning," said James, who has been a chamber member for more than 20 years.

James was an appropriate choice for the award, said chamber Executive Director Michelle Wilson.

"She is a powerhouse," Wilson said. "She and her husband support the chamber and its programs as much as they possibly can."

James is an asset to the community "and a hidden gem," she said. "Not many people locally realize the impact she's had on many, many lives for those in business as well as high school kids trying to improve their reading-comprehension skills."

Previously a first-grade teacher, James began to teach speed-reading by chance in 1973.

"I was a recently divorced mother who needed a job, and I saw an ad in the paper by a school that was looking for teachers," she said.

The school turned out to be the American Speed Reading Academy.

"They were ready to prepare teachers who didn't know their method, but knew how to motivate people and knew how to get results," James said. "They just wanted good teachers."

Later, the school went under after trying to expand too quickly, she said.

James co-founded Advanced Reading Concepts with instructors from Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics.

"They had more-advanced comprehension techniques and we had better eye-control techniques," she said. "We put the best of both schools together to make a better product."

Speed-reading is about more than just how many words one can read in a minute, James said.

"It's really about how you use your brain and being able to better comprehend what you read," she said.

Other chamber award recipients are:

* Most Involved Member -- Melissa Howell, owner of Shear Impressions Hair Design.

* Community Service Award -- Mary Ludlum, Grandview Heights Public Library director.

* Meridian Award -- Hayley Head, who recently retired as the Tri-Village Mentor League's executive director.

The chamber's scholarship fund was renamed the Kidwell Scholarship Fund in honor of Pathways/Members First Credit Union President Greg Kidwell. Kidwell has served on the chamber board for more than 12 years, including stints as treasurer and president.

A new fund, the Khouzam Workforce Development Scholarship, was established in honor of Grandview Heights City Attorney Joelle Khouzam. Khouzam has served the chamber for more than 12 years as a board member and legal counsel.

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