http://alleghenyst.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Arria-Hines.jpgBRIDGEPORT — Arria Hines, President and CEO of Harrison County-based Allegheny Science & Technology, has been named a finalist for EY’s 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in the East Central Region.

Accounting and professional services giant EY first started its Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1986. It now recognizes business leaders in more than 145 cities and more than 60 countries worldwide. Within the United States are 21 regional programs encompassing all 50 States and the District of Columbia. In the 32 years since its inception, EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year has honored more than 10,000 outstanding entrepreneurs for their vision, innovation, courage and leadership in building and growing successful businesses.

“Every year, we are impressed by the ingenuity, passion and undying optimism exuded by the entrepreneurs we meet and honor through this awards program,” said Craig Glazier, EY’s East Central awards program director. “They don’t follow trends — they define them. EY is proud to celebrate the East Central finalists in this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year program.”

As for AST entering the competition, Hines said it came to her upon being contacted by Merrill Corporation Client Executive David Ferguson. He found AST via the Inc. 500 list and thought Hines would be a good candidate and asked her to submit a nomination.

This was followed by interviews with EY reps in Pittsburgh and Bridgeport in which she told of how AST started with just two employees in 2009 with one small NASA contract and has since grown to more than 200 workers with offices in the Mountain State, D.C. metro area, Denver and Pittsburgh.

In the end, AST was one of the 28 finalists selected out of 200 applicants from the region encompassing Kentucky, western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio and West Virginia. Hines said she was surprised AST was named as a finalist given how tough last year’s competition was. At the same time, however, she said AST has a dynamic team that speaks for itself.

“Honestly, my first thought was “really, wow,” she said reflecting on when she learned of making regional finalist. “When you start a company, with two people, you never think about how it will grow and expand into something successful! They really did a deep dive into the company, but I truly think our key differentiators are the family-oriented culture and the professionalism and commitment we provide to each and every client. We all share the belief that the only real thing we own is our reputation and we live by it.”

At the end of the month, Hines will travel to Cleveland, Ohio for the awards ceremony to see if she move on to the National Awards which will be held in Palm Springs California in November. There are 21 total regions in the U.S. and each region will choose six to eight finalists to move on to the National Awards Ceremony in November.

“Obviously, it would truly be an honor to move on to the next level, but right now I am celebrating being a finalist in the East Central Region,” she said. “It is a very intense process, but I can say that it forced me to stop and think about how far AST has come and take a minute to celebrate our success. I have been able to celebrate the achievements of my employees along with showcasing that a woman-owned company from West Virginia can be a real competitor!”

Staff writer Conor Griffith can be reached by at 304-395-3168 or by email at cgriffith@statejournal.com