Participants nominated for the award included journalists from all media, including radio, television and the Internet, Chautin said.
An Atlanta mortgage veteran has been recognized by the government for his journalism skills.
Jerry Chautin was recently named the Small Business Association's 2006 Small Business Journalist of the Year, according to an SBA announcement.
A SCORE counselor since 1993, the business writer earned the award because of his efforts "to increase public understanding of the importance of small business contributions to the economy, contribution of news and feature stories, editorials, columns and commentary that highlight, and analyze small business issues, voluntary community service aimed at enhancing small business opportunity and growth and media efforts to improve the understanding of the role of small business in the U.S. economy."
Chautin, 65, said he began writing "for fun" at a local weekly newspaper in 1998 and currently writes the weekly column, Let's Talk Business, for the Herald-Tribune. But it was the Cherokee Scout -- the publisher of his column Business Buzz -- that nominated him for the SBA's North Carolina Journalist of the Year.
"Much to my surprise, I won," Chautin told MortgageDaily.com in an interview.
"So I'm clueless as to why they chose me," he said in an e-mailed statement. "I can only guess that my life's work helping real estate and business owners succeed reveals itself in my writing as well."
Chautin said he received his education from the University of Florida (Class of 1962), Hunter College and also attended the School of Mortgage Banking in Washington and Chicago. He began working in the mortgage industry in 1965 and was one of the first mortgage bankers to originate Freddie Mac multifamily loans, and loans guaranteed by the U. S. SBA and the Farmers Home Administration, he said.
"I was also involved with the first Fannie Mae credit enhanced multifamily tax-exempt bond issue," he said. "I was part of the advisory team to Atlanta's bond-issuing authority for the $49 million transaction. As such, I found myself on the threshold of commercial mortgage-backed securities that were in its embryonic stage at the time."
Chautin said while he was in the mortgage business, he played a part in mortgage transactions that probably totaled in the billions of dollars.
He said he worked with a few different companies and then began his own company, Trust Realty funding, Inc. in 1971, but then put his "entrepreneurial aspirations on hold" when he was offered the position of Southeast Regional VP for Berens-Associated Mortgage, he then held other various positions until renewing his efforts into Trust Realty Funding in 1980.
"Our small company became known as a boutique for niche multifamily and business financing," Chautin said. "I was even selected for the Deal of the Year award by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers for originating deals that were commonplace for us but unusual for the rest of the industry."
Chautin remains on the cutting edge, he said, "by subscribing to industry journals, maintaining key relationships and mentoring individuals who are getting started in the business."
He and his wife, Julie, a movie reviewer, both retired from the mortgage business in 1990 and "have embraced a life of volunteerism and writing," Chautin said.
"We're as active as we were when we were in business doing multimillion-dollar deals," Chautin said. "The only thing absent is the pressure."
Chautin is set to receive his award April 12 at a State Department dinner reception in Washington, D.C., which he will attend with his wife. He said the SBA wouldn't announce which dignitaries would be at the reception but he and Julie have been asked to complete documents to obtain security clearances before the event.