Leading off the annual dinner’s awards list were three Manufacturer of the Year awards handed out to Georgia Power, Shaw Industries and Toyo Tire in recognition of their investments and expansions throughout 2013.
Thirteen businesses were nominated for the Small Business of the Year award, which chamber CEO and President Joe Frank Harris Jr. noted was as important as the manufacturer award.
“Small business is the heart of the chamber. It’s an easy thing to recognize our manufacturers of the year, and they support them. When you sit in their offices, they are concerned about the small business owners of Bartow County. It all goes to quality of life. When you’ve got a vital downtown, you get voestalpine and places like that come in, it’s so good to see the partnership between large and small,” Harris said.
Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse was awarded Small Business of the Year. It was a humbling experience, the Mitchells said.
“It’s wonderful. I mean there’s such great nominees that we’re up against. We highly and truly admire every company that we were up against and to be a part of this community is awards enough, but to have the recognition — that’s wonderful, and glory be to God. Without God we couldn’t do it,” Johnny Mitchell said.
Jill Mitchell said the award would be displayed “front and center” in the restaurant.
Other awards handed out included three Volunteer of the Year Awards to Nicole Hughes, James Hall and Janet Queen, the Servanthood Award to Parnick Jennings, the Leadership Award to Bartow County Schools Superintendent John Harper, the Humanitarian Award to Dot Fraiser and the Chairman’s Award to former Gov. Joe Frank Harris Sr. Fraiser and Harris both received a standing ovation.
Wayne Moore then made his last remarks as chair of the chamber, saying he thanked his family for their support and allowing him the time to work with the chamber. He also thanked the chamber staff and those who served on chamber committees before saying his goodbyes.
“Now remember that our past chair, Bruce Thompson, had a few quotes in his speech from last year, so I wanted to leave you with one. This one doesn’t come from anyone famous, but he’s famous to me. It’s my father, William Moore, and he’s talking about the businessman that I needed to be,” Moore said. “He told me, ‘Wayne, always be short on mouth and long on ears and everything will be OK.’ I take that to be a true statement.
“At this time I want to thank all of you for being so gracious to allow me to serve as chairman in 2013. This is something I will always remember and it’s so close to my heart. Someone asked me, ‘Wayne, are you happy or are you sad?’ I said, ‘No, I’m numb right now.’ But I love all of you and I love this community and there’s a lot of great things that’s going to continue to happen in this community if we just keep doing the right things. ... We’ve got a bright future. I love all of you and thank you very much.”
Moore then passed the gavel to 2014 Chair Adena Harper, who announced initiatives relating to creating a strategic plan for the chamber, promoting the chamber’s benefits to new and existing members, reviewing the chamber’s policies and developing personal relationships.
During her speech, Harper remarked on how the chamber came together after the January 2013 tornado in Adairsville. She continued, saying she wished to work for the members businesses and help them grow.
“I encourage and challenge each of you to find passion and your voice this year as we celebrate our 125th anniversary. My personal goal is to come and visit you and to work for you. If you want, the chamber has my number. Feel free to contact me and I’ll come and work with you and visit. I’ve already done that with several of you ... let me see what you do and how you can grow the chamber and our businesses together. Thank you for this opportunity,” she said.
Harper later said she was planning to host monthly meetings to educate new and existing chamber members on the benefits the organization offers as part of her new initiatives.
“The one I think would be good for those that are members of our chamber is the [Participation Leads to Unlimited Growth] where we’re working with the [businesses]. ... A lot of our members haven’t realized their full potential of utilizing their membership to grow their businesses. So we’re going to be doing, I’m going to be having, one of those a month for our new members, as well as existing members that want to come back and learn what benefits they have and how they can use it to grow their businesses,” she said.
Following Harper, the chamber presented a video highlighting its 125-year history.
“We are standing on the shoulders of great men and women,” Harris said as he introduced the video. “... But the baton has been passed to us. One day, when we are standing and account for our lives, let it be said, ‘Well done my good and faithful servants.’ That’s what went before us, now let’s see what lies ahead.”