2019 Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Annual Awards & Dinner Celebrate Community

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Friday, March 8th, 2019

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 107th Annual Awards & Dinner sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center on Feb. 28.  Throughout the evening, the chamber doled out awards and recognized businesses and individuals in the community. 

First Commerce Credit Union sponsored the event. 

“For the second year in a row, we are absolutely thrilled to be the presenting sponsor for this great event,” said Heath Dawson, senior marketing executive. It is an absolute pleasure and joy for us to see so many familiar faces and friends in the community show up for this amazing event.”

The Ambassador of the Year Award, sponsored by BioTest Pharmaceuticals, was received by Sally Sutton, owner of Anchored Media Marketing. The Ambassador of the Year award recognizes a member of the Chamber Ambassador program with the most accumulated points for attending ribbon the Chamber’s member celebration events. 

“This has been a really exciting year, it pushed me beyond my limits and getting me out in front of a lot of people,” said Sutton. “The chamber has an awesome team that is passionate about supporting small and large business. The ambassadors that are out there representing the chamber as the ‘cheerleaders’ are truly the backbone of the Chamber, and we hope they know how much they are appreciated!”

Hargray was the proud sponsor of the Member’s Choice award which was awarded to Kona Ice of Lowndes.  This award recognizes a member dedicated to quality customer and client services who raises the expectations of customer service and courtesy in the community. 

“We would like to thank all of the chamber members we’ve met and have built relationships with,” said Russell Hassenstab, owner.  “We got into our business to see what we could bring back to Lowndes County. If its flavored shaved ice and drummed music, then we plan to keep doing it.”

Jakarta Washington, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University received the TeamTemps Most Valuable Employee Award. The most Valuable Employee Award is given to an individual who possesses impressive job knowledge and extraordinary work ethics, while demonstrating commendable effort in the workplace. 

“I’m extremely appreciative,” said Washington. “I want to thank MY chamber for the opportunity to be ambassador and being able to meet so many wonderful people within the community.”

Lindsey Rogers, Hospice of South Georgia, won Young Professional of the Year, sponsor by Taylor Insurance. The Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a young professional who has made a positive impact on his or her business while maintaining a devotion to community service and civic engagement. 

“I am beyond blessed and beyond grateful for the being able to work with Hospice of South Georgia. Thank you to MY chamber for this honor,” said Rogers. “I hope most of you have the opportunity in your career  to experience, as a young professional, someone to see you, see your talents, see your skills and just give you the opportunities you seek. For me that has been my boss at Hospice of South Georgia, Susan Bowden, and I am so grateful for that.”

Renasant Bank sponsors the Small Business of the Month program and therefore presented the Small Business of the Year Award, which was won by Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center. The Small Business of the Year award acknowledges a creative and innovative small business with 20 or fewer employees that demonstrates growth and stability in the business community.  

“I never wanted to be an educator, but it was only because I wanted to be different and unique. said Pamela Carter, owner and director. “I come from a long line of educators, my grandmother, my father, my mom and I wanted to create my own path. God allowed me to do that only to bring me back to what was always in heart, and always in my soul and what I was most passionate about. I care more about the kids at Tickle Me Pink and in the community then I do myself. I thank my mom and dad for teaching me how to love others and put them before my own self.”

The BIG Thinker award winner this year was Miller Hardware Company, and was sponsored by Reinhart Food Service. 

The BIG Thinker award is presented each year to a successful home-grown entrepreneurs who cares and gives back to their community.  This year, the Chamber wanted to recognize homegrown entrepreneurs who have made it a family affair. Only about 3% of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. Valdosta- Lowndes has 3 successful, growing, fourth-generation, family-owned businesses that have been in continuous operation for more than 100 years.

“It’s a great honor and we are very humbled to accept it,” said Dutton Miller, third generation owner and operator. We live in an incredible community, incredible customers and an incredible chamber of commerce with people who care as much about our business as we do, and it takes a lot of those folks to make it work. We realize we are super blessed, and we thank you for the honor of this award.”

The 2019 A.L. Girardin award is presented to a Chamber member who has made extraordinary contributions to the Chamber and the local community.  As hard as this Chamber staff works, there is only so much that your hired, professional staff can accomplish on behalf of its members and our community.  To be the most effective Chamber possible – to be the Chamber that this 5-star community deserves – the Chamber relies on the commitment of Valdosta’s top business leaders.  Peter Layne of The Home Depot won the 2019 A.L. Girardin, presented by the staff the Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to say what an honor this is. I have worked with chambers in different cities, and I have never worked with a chamber as good as this one.”

Myrna Ballard, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, thanked the many vendors that participated in the production of the event, including Event Point and Motion Wave Productions, Steven Heddon, with Fusion Creative Marketing, Estel Powell for the voice announcements, Fresh Beginnings for the VIP table gifts, Central Floral Company for the beautiful table arrangement, The Home Depot for providing the beautiful green plants, and LS Smith Photography.  

The 2019 Chamber Board Chairman, Lee McArthur provided the last remakes of the evening. 

It truly is an honor and privilege to be the incoming chairman this year,” said McArthur. The chamber isn’t the staff. It isn’t the beautiful building downtown. The chamber is us, the members, you, me. So yeah, we’re going places. That’s YOUR Chamber.  That’s MY Chamber.”