On January 8th, the East St. Tammany Chamber hosted its Annual Awards Event – Hollywood Nights in the East. The event began with the paparazzi, shooting photos at the red carpet entrance to the Northshore Harbor Center while guests entered through the Walk of Fame listing all sponsors of the event. The Dominoes Band provided great tunes through the evening with many guests tearing up the dance floor. The chamber took the opportunity during the band breaks to present the outstanding awards for 2009 to its members, staff and board of directors for the year. 2009 was a championship year for the chamber. Currently, they are 851 members strong, representing over 10,000 employees. The retention rate was 90% and they gained 141 new members. The praise for the success was dedicated to the staff and the Board of Directors who got off the bench and into the game. Each director was given a token of appreciation. The 2009 Director of the Year Award was presented to S. Michele Blanchard, Attorney - Airey & Blanchard, L.C. Michele joined the board in 2007 as an Advisory member and stepped up to the plate in several capacities. Even as a small business owner, she spends her time wisely giving back to the community and encouraging business owners to join the chamber and members to make the most of their membership. Michele heads the Planning Committee.
The Ambassadors are the backbone to the chamber. These volunteers assist the staff in membership, events, retention and in all areas of the chamber. The board had a difficult time choosing from the long list of outstanding Ambassadors. We wish we could have given each one of them an award, but four were chosen, Brad Dubose of First Franklin Financial; Caitlin Scanlan of East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity; Evelyn Snyder of Home Instead Senior Care; and Scott Standiford of Kentwood Water.
The Member of the Year is chosen from the Member of the Month, an award sponsored by Charter Business, this is nominated by the membership and voted on by the Board of Directors. The Member of the Year for 2009 was Northshore Harbor Center, with its Executive Director, Kathy Lowrey, accepting the award.
New Business of the Year is a category to recognize a business that has come into the area, jumped right in, became involved in the community and utilized the services of the chamber to help its business grow. The membership nominated for the New Business of the Year Award were Geaux for the Gold; Kimberly Hatcher and Top Agent Realty; Jill Jones Photography; Tropical Smoothie and The Work Clinic. The recipients of the awards were Geaux for the Gold and Tropical Smoothie.
The Small Business of the Year is an important award for the chamber each year. 90% of our members are small businesses. The chamber prides itself on being a voice for business on local, state and federal issues. Without small businesses, our community would not be what it is today. Nominated for the Small Business of the Year Award were Edward Jones, Lee Cosgrove; Dependable Home Care; Watch Systems, Inc.; Greenbrier Community Care Center; WelBilt Custom Homes, Inc. The Small Business of the Year selected was Watch Systems, Inc. which is an international company located in St. Tammany Parish who sends out notifications to communities regarding sex offenders in many states around the country.
This year the events committee agreed that we needed to recognize large businesses in the area as well as small businesses. Our large companies are the reason many people are able to live, work and play right here in St. Tammany Parish and help develop and sustain our community. The nominees were K.B. Kaufmann & Co., Inc.; Charter Business; HMS Architects; Kidney & Hypertension Associates; Standard Materials, LLC; and Textron Land and Marine Systems, Inc. The Large Business of the Year is Charter Business.
Community involvement is important to our entire region. Without local businesses giving back to the community, we would not have a chamber of commerce, nonprofits that assist the less fortunate, or the wealth of cultural diversity for which St. Tammany is known. Many of our businesses qualify for this award and the nominees were numerous. The top four recognized were Slidell Memorial Hospital; Capital One Bank; Whitney Bank; and Lowry-Dunham, Case & Vivien Insurance with Slidell Memorial Hospital and Lowry-Dunham, Case & Vivien Insurance receiving the award.
The Chairman’s Club is the highest level of membership in the East St. Tammany Chamber. This membership comes with many benefits and is made up of large and small businesses. The Chairman’s Club Choice Award is a committee that went over and above the strategic plan. This award was chosen exclusively by the Chairman’s Club members as the outstanding Committee of the Year and was given to the Events Committee. The chamber hosts four major events per year, the Award Banquet, the Giveaway Party, the Business and Community Showcase, and the Golf Tournament. Recognized were Peter Cavignac, Whitney Bank; Robyn Kline, Iberia Bank; Kathy Lowry, Northshore Harbor Center; and Danny Schaus, CLECO.
The chamber presented three special awards for 2009 and we could not let the year go by without recognizing these organizations. Collaboration has been the key to the success of our chamber and our community.
This year the chamber was recognized by Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, along with St. Tammany Parish and the St. Tammany West Chamber, for the Louisiana Cultural Award for Economic Development. We know without the relationship that we share with the City of Slidell, that award would not be possible. A gold Fleur De Lis was presented to Mayor Ben Morris, Kim Bergeron and her staff at the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Slidell for enhancing the lives of the citizens of our region.
Without the collaboration with the St. Tammany Parish Government, Kevin Davis, Bill Oiler, and staff, we recognize that getting the ‘Voice of Business’ heard on the state and federal level would not be possible. Through the joint efforts during Washington Mardi Gras, we are able to get St. Tammany Parish noticed on many levels.
The last Collaboration Award was presented to the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce for its efforts with our chamber to promote “Business” on all levels. With our joint efforts, we believe the businesses in St. Tammany Parish are being represented better than ever before.
Lastly, recognized was outstanding 2009 chairman, Jack Francioni, General Manager of Brian Harris Autoplex. From the Banquet with Governor Bobby Jindal, the sold-out Giveaway Fiesta, our busting at the seams Business and Community Showcase, lunch with the Championship 2009 LSU Baseball Coach, the largest Golf Tournament on the northshore through the fabulous holiday luncheon, his support and dedication to the chamber has been of “Champion Spirit.” Jack’s motto to, “get off the bench and into the game”, was a success on every level. His motivation encouraged many members to get involved and make a difference. Through his leadership, and the support of our directors, the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce is a champion!
For information on promoting your business at one of the events of the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, please visit our website at www.estchamber.com or call us at 985-643-5678.