VIDEO: Arkansas Business of the Year Awards Honors Top Executives, Companies in State

Jim Gaston, the colorful operator of Gaston's White River Resort at Lakeview, was named Arkansas Business Executive of the Year for 2010 in Little Rock Tuesday night.

A crowd of about 850 gathered in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center to honor businesses, nonprofits and executives in six categories.

Video: Click here to see video clips of each of the winner's acceptance speeches.

Twitter: Various Twitter users live-tweeted from the banquet. 

"You will never have any idea how much this means to me," Gaston said. "I feel like I'm a 1930s or '40s movie about the country boy coming to town."

He brought down the house by showing off the brown leather belt he wore with his black tuxedo pants. "When you live in a rural area, do not rent a tux," Gaston advised.

(Click here to see video of Gaston's speech.)

Georgia Miller Mjartan, the 30-year-old who has spent five years guiding Our House, a Little Rock transition program for homeless families, was recognized as Nonprofit Executive of the Year.

The Learning Institute of Hot Springs, which provides school districts with custom data on student achievement, was named Business of the Year in Category I, whose finalists have 1-25 employees. Mitchell Communications Group, Elise Mitchell's Fayetteville public relations agency, won in Category II (26-75 employees), and Powers of Arkansas, a North Little Rock engineering company that maximizes energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, won in Category III (76-300).

Arkansas Rice Depot, a statewide food bank that also provides non-food assistance to impoverished families, was named Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

During the banquet, the Arkansas Community Foundation also presented its Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation Awards to Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, Teleflora LLC of Paragould and Texarkana Community Journal.

Entrants in the Arkansas Business of the Year awards program are nominated by Arkansas Business readers. Winners are selected by an independent board of judges. This year's judges were Joe Chacko, vice president wealth management with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Little Rock; Kathy Manis Findley, executive director of Safe Places and last year's Nonprofit Executive of the Year; Lynn Wright, area president of Regions Bank; Joe Stanley, principal and CEO of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects and last year's Business Executive of the Year; and Craig Lair, an attorney with the Rose Law Firm.

This year's event was presented by Centennial Bank.