The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce wrapped up another year of activity Wednesday night with a celebration that featured food, fun and a look at the past and future.
President Tricia Bechman gave a review of the past year during the 85th annual dinner at Celebrations.
“Last year, I stood here not yet having completed my first year with the Seymour chamber,” she said. “Now, it is hard to believe it will be two years on April 7. So much has changed in such a short period of time.”
Bechman said it’s obvious that business is growing in Seymour.
“In 2015, we held 12 ribbon-cuttings and welcomed 21 new chamber members,” she said. “Business engagement is definitely up with our chamber.”
Bechman said chamber officials will continue to add programs and evaluate the effectiveness of existing ones to see if they work or not. The first holiday passport program was one of the successful ones that will be continued, she said.
“Thirty-eight chamber members participated and stamped passports for customers throughout the month of December,” she said.
There were 265 completed passports turned in by participants for a prize competition.
“Since each passport represented $250 in spending, that is total of $66,250 spent locally in just the month of Seymour through this program,” Bechman said.
New board President Nate Tormoehlen spoke briefly about this year and what members and the community can expect from the chamber.
The most noticeable will be the inaugural Savor Jackson County event planned for Sept. 10 at Celebrations.
“We are expecting at least 25 local vendors with everything to sample from appetizers to entrees, desserts and specialty drinks,” he said.
The event also will feature live acoustic music and cocktail tables, where guests can enjoy the samples and catch up with friends.
“This should be a fun and relaxing evening to showcase the flavors that we have to offer right here in Jackson County,” Tormoehlen said.
He also discussed changes coming to the farmers market this year, including the addition of a full-time director, set hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, planned entertainment and craft and food booths.
Tormoehlen said the chamber plans to help members promote after-hour events, allowing them to network with existing and new customers.
After the reviews, past board chairman Ray Eakins led the awards presentation.
The first went to Tonja Couch, who has been executive director of Jackson County United Way since 2012. She received the Rising Star Award, which has been given since 2004.
“I’m humbled and greatly appreciate the recognition,” Couch said.
The Small Business of the Year award went to Craig and Linda Moore, owners of The Carpet Gallery since 1997. That award, presented since 1992, is given to a business that has enhanced the economy of Seymour through successful and profitable organization.
“Craig and Linda are very supportive of ‘shop local, buy local’ efforts and are engaged in the community with their support of numerous organizations,” Eakins said.
Craig Moore said the couple’s success would not be possible without their employees and the willingness of the former owners, Bob and Janet Brown, to put him to work in 1990 as a salesman in a business he knew little about at the time.
Craig Moore said Bob Brown told him on his first day on the job that he just needed to learn one thing about the floor covering business.
“Fuzzy side up,” Craig Moore said. “Today, 26 years later, the fuzzy side is still up.”
The three teachers of the year, Laura Burbrink (elementary), Summer Schleibaum (middle school) and Jeanna Eppley (high school), also were recognized by Eakins before he presented final two awards.
They were the Corporate Citizen of the Year award to Royalty Companies of Indiana Inc. and the Citizenship Award to Rexanne Ude, development director for Schneck Medical Center since 2006 and executive director of the Schneck Foundation.
The Citizenship Award is given to a person who demonstrates exemplary dedication to Seymour and inspires others.