Chamber Celebrates Successes at 2012 Annual Dinner
Jessica M.L. Thompson, Marketing & Communications Director
BOWLING GREEN, KY-The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated a year of success at tonight's Annual Dinner at Sloan Convention Center, where more than 600 local business leaders, regional partners and special guests attended the event to honor the Chamber's achievements.
2011 Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Rodney Rogers reflected on the achievements of last year, which included spending time with hundreds of small business owners to discuss their successes, needs and challenges. These discussions stemmed from Rogers' 2011 theme: Aligning Business with Opportunity.
"I started thinking about what impact I wanted to make long before I became Chamber chairman," said Rogers, who is also president of Chamber President's Club Bronze Star Partner Stewart-Richey Construction, Inc. "I knew I wanted to help small businesses receive recognition for their work, and I wanted to help those leaders make connections in the community. With the help of the Chamber staff and volunteers, we were able to begin aligning business with opportunity through the Small Business Luncheons and meetings. The conversations we had were invaluable and have set us on a course to provide our Chamber partners with even more benefits in 2012 and beyond."
WBKO TV Anchor/Managing Editor Gene Birk was the emcee for the evening. During the program, the Chamber recognized elected officials and their representatives, and President's Club partners. More than 60 partners participated in the President's Club in 2011. These partners provide funds above and beyond their Chamber dues to support economic development in South Central Kentucky.
"Our President's Club partners are leaders in South Central Kentucky. By investing in the Chamber's economic development efforts, they are demonstrating that they understand the value of the Chamber's economic development work," said Ron Bunch, CEcD, Chamber president and CEO.
"2011 was a year of economic development success, as the Chamber supported announcements totaling more than $200 million in capital investment and more than 1,500 additional jobs," continued Bunch. "Clearly, economic development is important to the region, and we thank all of our elected leadership, allies, President's Club partners and regional economic development partners helping us effectively market South Central Kentucky."
At the event, 2012 Chamber Board of Directors Chairman D. Gaines Penn, also the managing partner of President's Club Gold Star Partner English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, unveiled his theme for the year: Building Talent. Leading Innovation. He spoke about the value of workforce development and why the Chamber believes it is important to emphasize talent at all levels, whether through the Leader in Me initiative in school systems or the implementation of a national training model. He also emphasized that innovation is integral to the continued competitiveness of the region against a global economic development landscape, pointing to innovative research and development opportunities available at Western Kentucky University and Bowling Green Technical College.
Throughout the event, the Chamber emphasized its 2012 strategic initiatives, which are encompassed in the Chamber's action plan. Six Chamber partners sponsored the promotion of these initiatives, which are
Sponsored by President's Club Gold Star Partner English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP
Talent development is integral to business success and economic development competitiveness. The Chamber supports the development of South Central Kentucky's workforce by developing programs and connecting educational organizations with businesses to build partnerships. The Chamber will continue to foster talent development by creating a national model to fulfill businesses' workforce needs, heightening current and future employees' skill sets while providing low-cost training solutions for employers.
Sponsored by President's Club Gold Star Partner Bowling Green Municipal Utilities Fiber
Innovation encompasses research and development, new and updated business practices, technology, and much more. South Central Kentucky enjoys a strong community of innovative business leaders, which are supported by public-private partnerships on a local, state and national level. The Chamber's objective is to continue and grow this synergy by connecting existing and new targeted businesses with technology assets already available in South Central Kentucky, such as the large chamber scanning electron microscope at the Western Kentucky University NOVA Center and the robotics and mechatronics programs at Bowling Green Technical College, along with other stakeholders and businesses.
Sponsored by President's Club Diamond Star Partner Western Kentucky University
Increased business with suppliers and clients outside of Kentucky brings new dollars into the local economy. Embracing this concept, the Chamber has identified globalization as a strategic priority. The Chamber will support globalization for South Central Kentucky's existing targeted businesses by exploring ways to increase export activity for these businesses.
Sponsored by President's Club Platinum Star Partner Citizens First
The South Central Kentucky Regional Economic Development Partnership is a 10-county partnership in which all stakeholders collectively market the region for economic development. This partnership has already experienced international success, having been recognized as the top regionalism partnership by the International Economic Development Council in 2009. The Chamber supports this regional synergy by promoting the region's assets and deepening the collaboration between stakeholders.
Sponsored by President's Club Bronze Star Partner Stewart-Richey Construction, Inc.
The strength of Chamber's partnership is the driving force for its success. More than 1,200 Chamber partners invest their time and financial support in a Chamber with a proven track record to impact business. Certified by the U,S. Chamber of Commerce as a 5-Star Accredited organization, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce maintains these objectives focused on business prosperity and generating wealth for South Central Kentucky.
Sponsored by Gerald Printing
The Chamber aims to continually improve the positive business climate within South Central Kentucky, thereby helping to protect and expand the region's economic base. Several objectives help meet this goal--advocacy, communication, community development and engagement.
Information about each of these strategic initiatives was provided in the event's program, and attendees were asked to register for door prizes valued at $800 each at the individual sponsor booths during the reception. Additionally, each booth included an optional registration for another door prize. In total, the Chamber presented door prizes worth more than $5,000 during the program, all of which were donated by generous Chamber partners.
Additional sponsors for the evening were
- Audio-Visual Technology: President's Club Bronze Star Partner Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC and President's Club Platinum Star Partner U.S. Bank
- Bar Sponsors: President's Club Platinum Star Partner BB&T Insurance, Ramada and Kenway Disposal
- Coat Room: Western Kentucky University MBA Program
- Floral Arrangements: Broadway Florist
- Printing: Gerald Printing
- Media: WBKO-TV
Emcee Gene Birk also recognized the 2011 Year-End Award winners:
- Ambassador of the Year: City of Bowling Green Honorable Mayor Bruce Wilkerson
- Board Volunteer of the Year: John Mark Fones
- Volunteer of the Year: Mark Cornwell
- Chamber Partnership Sales Volunteer of the Year: Dan Harbison
Prior to inducting the new Chamber Board of Directors members, Birk recognized retiring Board of Directors members Joe Natcher and Reuben Netherland. Then, he asked for a moment of silence to honor the memory of three Ambassadors who died in 2011: Jerald Manning; Charles M. Moore, Jr.; and Reverend Howard Surface. Moore was also the 2011 winner of the Herb Smith Lifetime Achievement Award.
Honorable Chief Justice John Minton administered the oath of office to the 2012 Chamber Board of Directors and Ambassadors Club members. Then past Board chairs participated in a special presentation, passing the gavel to each other, ending with 2012 Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Penn. The presentation provided a glimpse at the many business leaders from throughout the community who have dedicated their time to leading the Chamber.
"It is a real honor to be the chairman of the Chamber this year," said Penn. "I'm grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Chamber, as well as the support of my family, colleagues and friends, to make an impact on the Chamber and the region through our programs, activities and voice of business. I look forward to meeting with our Chamber partners and developing new ways to increase and expand our economy's reach here in South Central Kentucky."
About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,300 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region.