Brandon Hough spends most afternoons bent over reams of carpet or stacks of hardwood in his hometown of Pawnee, Illinois. As the sole employee of Hammond Floor Covering, Hough sells and installs carpet, hardwood and tile, among other coverings. He's also one of five weekly winners of the Love a Local Business sweepstakes hosted by Intuit, the makers of small business software products QuickBooks and TurboTax. The sweepstakes began on July 20th and continues through August 30th, with 30 winners being selected over the six weeks.
"I couldn't believe it," says Hough, "I was just ecstatic." Hammond has been a family-owned business since 1967, when Hough's father-in-law began the company to service the community and surrounding central Illinois counties. As a winner with 19 nominations, Hough received a $1000 Intuit Growth Grant, which includes a $500 Visa gift card to invest into his business as well as $500 worth of Intuit products and services.
"I'm going to branch out a little more on the web," says Hough, "and buy a new desk and make some t-shirts with the company name on the back." Although Hammond Floor Covering has been largely unaffected by the economic downturn, Hough says he can always continue growing his company.
Justin Kitch, the chief growth officer for small business at Intuit, believes that small businesses have a special place in the heart of most consumers. "Small businesses are the backbone of America--the recovery starts with them first and they get hit the hardest," says Kitch. Through the Love a Local Business sweepstakes, "we want to bring awareness to the consumer that small businesses are alive and thriving but in need of continued support." 
"I think the little guy does make a difference," says Jay Moskowitz, the vice president of finance at San Francisco-based Helm Financial Corporation, leasers of railcar and locomotive equipment. Moskowitz submitted the winning nomination for Gialina Pizzeria, a local San Francisco eatery a few blocks from his house in Glen Park. "I really enjoy the pizza and wanted to show my support another way then going and eating at the establishment." 
Seating 38 people, Gialina Pizzeria was founded by Sharon Ardiana, who is also the head chef. "I think it's an awesome little thing that gives you some money to invest in staff or put back in the business and it gives you some tools to run your business."
Gialina believes in passing the good fortune forward. She's considering throwing an employee appreciation party for her 18 employees, to give something back to her staff. "It's a really great thing," she says, "I'm going to log on and nominate someone else, you know, pay it forward."