The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce was named Chamber of the Year tonight at the national conference of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. ACCE’s Chamber of the Year is the nation’s only award which recognizes up to four chambers of commerce each year for their dual role in creating and leading businesses and communities. The Greater Owensboro Chamber was one of two finalists in the $450,001 - $900,000 total revenue category.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with this national honor,” says Suzanne Northern Blazar of UniFirst Corp. and 2010 board chair of the chamber. “This is recognition for the bold advocacy and member service programs the chamber has initiated in recent years.”
“Wow!” said Chamber President Jody Wassmer. “To be chosen by peers from across the country as the No. 1 chamber of commerce is reflective of Owensboro, our businesses and the volunteers who make the Chamber work. The “good news phone” will ring off the hook at next week’s Rooster Booster Breakfast.”
Wassmer and Ashley Bradshaw, operations manager, were interviewed Wednesday morning by a panel of three judges that selected winners. Finalists were determined in May based on an application process.
As part of the application, the chamber highlighted its advocacy role in creating the Chamber Leadership Initiatives for Northwestern Kentucky (C-LINK) alliance and the Owensboro Buys It! program.
C-LINK includes 12 chambers in the region and has been a leading proponent of Interstate 69 in western Kentucky, which has seen significant progress in the past two years. Owensboro Buys It! was started in 2009 to create local commerce and taught small business members how to create an “elevator pitch,” attend networking events to practice it and then meet one-on-one with purchasing personnel from large local employers.
According to Wassmer, the Chamber board of directors approved a strategic plan in early 2008 which included a goal of being named Chamber of the Year by 2012.
“We won it two years ahead of what we thought was even possible,” he says. “We intend to keep following the plan and already are working on new initiatives for 2011.”