FOLEY - Every year the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce presents the Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award, recognizing a business owner in the community who has made a lasting impact on the …
FOLEY - Every year the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce presents the Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award, recognizing a business owner in the community who has made a lasting impact on the area. For 2021, the 45th winner is David Worthington, co-owner of Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast. The charming inn is run by a two-man crew, Worthington and his partner Eric Bigelow. Since opening its doors in 1997, the Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast has become a local treasure.
The adventure of opening a bed and breakfast in Magnolia Springs was over 15 years in the making. Worthington began his career working in restaurants in 1978. He first worked with Bigelow in a restaurant in 1981. From 1990 - 1996, he traveled the southeast working for his uncle’s insurance company. Then in 1996, after 15 years of saving and five years studying the industry, Worthington and Bigelow moved to Magnolia Springs, looking to start a business.
“On the building that I have, I researched that building for nine months before I made an offer,” said Worthington. “That’s a lot of research, but I wanted to make sure that we could do what we needed to do with the funds that I had, which weren’t very much. I had nine charter banks in this county tell me no. So I hope I’m an inspiration to people that no matter what somebody tells you that you can or can’t do, you don’t listen to that. You know what your strengths are and what your willingness to do is, and you never take no for an answer.”
Now, 25 years later, Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast is a staple of the community.
“Twenty-five years have gone, 25 years I’ve been here, that’s unbelievable,” said Worthington. “But again, it’s the support of the community, support of the chamber … The more you give the more you get back, and being a member of this chamber and serving on this board, and any other thing that I’ve done, I just see it over and over that the more I give, the more I get back, and it’s just ridiculous.”
The Annual Walton M. Vines Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award began as a way to recognize business leaders and entrepreneurs in the community. The full list of award winners can be found on the South Baldwin Chamber’s website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com. Last year’s winner, Tommy Rachel, owner of Taking Off Hot Air Balloon Company, presented this year’s award to Worthington.
“Personally one of the things that I really admire about (Worthington) is he reaches out to other people to help them succeed as well,” Rachel said. “He reached out to me to help me incorporate what I do into his business, and I certainly enjoy that and appreciate it … He is now giving seminars to people who want to get into his industry, because again, he’s someone who certainly reaches out I think and helps other people be successful.”
South Baldwin Chamber CEO/President Donna Watts gave past award winners a moment to talk about their experience receiving the award, while detailing the importance of recognizing local business leaders.
“Honoring the Free Enterprise Person of the Year is such a chamber of commerce thing to do, isn’t it? And we love it,” Watts said. “Without our free enterprise, our entrepreneurs, our people who are brave enough to jump out and start a business and fight like heck to make it work and survive all the ups and downs of the economy, and everything else these days, the storms literally and figuratively, they deserve to be honored. So we come together to do that, and it’s a very special time.”