The growth in business in the city was good last year but looks to be even better this year.

That’s the assessment of one of the city’s leading business officials.

Tricia Bechman, president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, talked about the local business climate during the chamber’s 84th annual awards dinner Wednesday at The Pines Evergreen Room.

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“In 2014, we held eight ribbon-cuttings and welcomed 30 new members,” Bechman said. “And with some of the fun we have in store, I expect that to keep growing.”

Bechman came to Seymour from Franklin nearly a year ago.

“On April 7, I will have completed my first year with this organization, and it has been a great year,” she said.

She said she started out with the goal of meeting each and every chamber member.

“Let’s just say 400 members is a lot, and unfortunately, I did not get that accomplished,” she said. “But I was able to meet with many of our members and have great conversations about the needs of their businesses.”

She said it is obvious business in Seymour is growing.

Nate Tormoehlen, chairman of the chamber’s board, talked about plans for this year.

“The board of directors is planning for a very productive 2015,” he said.

The to-do list includes improving member benefits and communication with members.

“We feel if we can do those two things, that will allow us to deliver more value to you and your organization and improve our member benefits,” Tormoehlen said.

To do that, a membership committee is being put in place, and one of its jobs will be to look at member benefits and add to that list.

“So no member leaves the chamber because they didn’t receive a proper return on their investment,” Tormoehlen said.

The program also included the presentation of award winners, including Teacher of the Year at the elementary level, Sherry Dart; middle school level, Wayne Huddleston; and high school level, Chris Rose.

Other award winners were Dr. Nate Otte, optometrist, Rising Star Award; Don Luecke, his sister and his brother, who own Luecke Audio Video & Appliance, Small Business of the Year; Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., Corporate Citizen of the Year; and Dave Geis, president and CEO of JCB, Citizenship Award.

The Rising Star Award, presented since 2004, recognizes an individual who has made a positive impact on the community, exhibits outstanding citizenship and community involvement and serves as a role model.

Otte is president of the Jackson County United Way board, co-creator of Vision 2025 and coach of Seymour High School’s girls tennis team.

Otte credited his family and friends for making the award possible.

“You’re the reason why I’ve stayed so connected to Seymour; but most of all, I would like to thank the community of Seymour as a whole,” Otte said.

He said the award puts some added pressure and responsibility on his shoulders to continue growing both professionally and personally.

“But also to work on some initiatives for Seymour’s future,” Otte said. “To me, right now is one of the most exciting times for our city. The opportunities on the horizon can transform us into one of the really great small towns in southern Indiana. Best of all, we can all be a part of the changes that move us forward.”

The Citizenship Award, presented since 1981, is given to an individual who demonstrates exemplary dedication to Seymour and inspires others by volunteer commitment to the community.

Geis said he was deeply honored and humbled to receive the award, “… especially considering the stature and contributions of those many individuals who have received the Citizenship Award in the past.”

He said most if not all community activists and volunteers don’t do it for the recognition.

“They do it because they know it is the right thing to do,” Geis said. “To give something back to their community. Their time, talent and treasures.”

He said he shares the award with JCB’s team of directors and officers who share a longstanding culture and expectation of being involved in the community in a variety of ways.

Geis has been involved in many organizations, including Seymour Industrial Corp., Community Foundation of Jackson County, the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, Greater Seymour Trust Fund and the chamber board, and is a 38-year member of the Seymour Rotary Club.

At a glance

Award winners

Rising Star Award: Dr. Nate Otte

Small Business of the Year: Luecke Audio Video & Appliance

Teacher of the Year: Sherry Dart (elementary division), Wayne Huddleston (middle school division), Chris Rose (high school division)

Corporate Citizen of the Year: Jackson County Industrial Development Corp.

Citizenship Award: Dave Geis

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.