Nominations Are Now Open!


REI Oklahoma’s Dream BIG Oklahoma event has opened nominations for the event’s top three awards: Dr. Fern Green-Bowling Diamond Award, Dream Big Award, and the coveted Vision Award.


(OKLAHOMA CITY, June 6, 2023) – REI Oklahoma, an economic development nonprofit serving all 77 counties, has announced that nominations are now open for the top three awards at their annual Dream BIG Oklahoma event. Nominations will be accepted through June 30, 2023. Winners for all Dream BIG Oklahoma awards are celebrated at the annual event scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, 2023, at the Grand Casino Resort in Shawnee, Oklahoma.


Dream BIG is an annual statewide event hosted by REI Oklahoma to showcase the ‘best of the best’ who help build, invest in, and grow Oklahoma’s economy. The event recognizes individuals, small businesses, corporations, and other organizations making a significant impact in economic development and for their commitment to serving others.


Anyone may nominate an individual, entrepreneur, business, or organization meeting the established criteria for each award. Individual nominees must be from Oklahoma, and a business or organization nominee must have been established in Oklahoma with one or more current locations in the state.


The Dr. Fern Green-Bowling Diamond Award recognizes a woman in business who has served as a shining example to others and has made a significant impact in her business and community. Past winners include Mary Billings, Elote Café and Catering (2022); Robin Roberson, Goose and Gander (2019); and Kathy Robinson, Schoolware, Inc. (2018).


The Dream Big Award recognizes an individual, business, or organization that is not afraid to “dream big” by making a substantial difference in their community, state, or where it is needed most. Past winners include Miss Mary’s Market (2022), Barbara Whinery and the 4RKids Foundation (2019), and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives’ “Electrifying Guatemala Project” (2018).


Finally, REI Oklahoma’s Vision Award recognizes an organization, business, or other entity that has indeed transitioned its dreams and visions into reality while enhancing Oklahoma’s economy. Past winners include Governor Bill Anoatubby and the Chickasaw Nation (2022), John A. “Rocky “Barrett and Citizen Potawatomi Nation (2019), and the Green Family and Hobby Lobby (2018).


Last year’s Dream Big Award Winner was Miss Mary’s Market. Miss Mary’s Market is the dream of Rick and Jill Rhodes, who were looking to provide a meaningful work environment for their daughter Mary, who has Down Syndrome and had aged out of all programs in their area. Miss Mary’s Market is the only market of their kind in the downtown district of Okmulgee.


“To have Miss Mary’s Market recognized as the 2022 Dream Big Award winner was a beautiful and overwhelming experience,” said Jill Rhodes, owner of Miss Mary’s Market and mother of Mary. “To have the community and the selection committee see the value of what we’ve created to help provide meaningful employment to those with developmental disabilities means the world to us, not only as business owners but as a family.”


Those interested in nominating someone for one of these three awards may visit REI Oklahoma’s website at They may also go directly to the nominations page at Nominations will close at the end of June 30, 2023.


“REI Oklahoma has been actively involved in economic development for our state since 1982,” said Sherry Harlin, REI Oklahoma’s chief operating officer. “We know the dedication it takes not only to create and build a business but to do it in a way that greatly benefits those in the community and, in some instances, the state.”


Sponsorship opportunities are still available for this year’s Dream BIG Oklahoma event. For more information about the nomination process or for sponsorship information, the community may call 800-658-2823 or email


About REI Oklahoma
Since 1982, REI Oklahoma has focused on cultivating an environment conducive to economic growth and job creation. As a statewide organization, REI Oklahoma understands the importance of adapting to specific community needs, respecting community culture, and addressing the barriers many Oklahomans face. REI Oklahoma’s headquarters are in Durant, with additional Oklahoma City and Tulsa offices. With the various point of entry to access services to REI Oklahoma, regardless of where a client enters, they have access to all REI Oklahoma programs. These programs include Business Lending, Housing Down Payment Assistance Program, Minority Business Center, New Market Tax Credit Program, and the Women’s Business Center. To learn more about REI Oklahoma, visit or call 800-658-2823. Follow REI Oklahoma on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.




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