By SHEILA NELSON, Special to The Patriot
Celebrating Pulaski County Prosperity was the theme of the recent 2018 Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Awards Banquet, and quite a celebration it was!
Marcus Thompson, Communication and Inspiration Manager for Volvo Trucks, did a superb job as the Master of Ceremonies and Franky Marchand welcomed everyone to the delightful venue, Volvo’s Customer Experience Center.
Throughout the reception and meal, a silent video was continuously run featuring some of the
scenes depicting “Pulaski County is…” including mountain mornings, outdoor adventure, southern living, making memories, live music, advanced manufacturing, and my home. The sponsors for the evening were thanked and the nominees for each of the awards to be presented were recognized on the video as well.
Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet set the tone for the evening when he stated that one year ago in that very same place, the “Pulaski County Is…” community engagement initiative was launched. Throughout the year, citizens were asked to fill in the blank with just two words which signify what Pulaski County means to them. The goals of this initiative were to shift perceptions, increase consumer confidence, and build community pride. The initiative was designed to be ubiquitous, to be seen everywhere. Businesses have parlayed the initiative into advertising opportunities as when five businesses sponsored five billboards in four counties, there was a wildly successful photo contest, a Pulaski County video was displayed on Wall Street and in seven countries.
Pulaski County is on Hokie Radio and the AM Hodge Podge show. There are podcasts, brochures, stickers, an array of print media, social media, and events which promote the theme. Pulaski County is featured on instant replays at Virginia Tech basketball games and will soon be featured at Radford University.
Some of the responses received for the Pulaski County is… initiative were international business, job opportunities, unique shopping, awesome fudge, new schools, big bass, family farms, scenic beauty, exceptional leadership, as well as more abstract ideas such as community spirit, my home, and immensely blessed. The list is virtually endless.
Pulaski County can mean whatever you want it to mean to you and whatever you help to make it. Sweet closed his remarks with a quote from Zig Ziggler, “There is power in words. What you say is what you get.”
Numerous awards and recognitions were made during the evening.
Vanessa Repass presented The Southwest Times Civic Honors Award to Assistant Pulaski County Administrator Anthony Akers.
Delegate Nick Rush was called on to make a special recognition. He told how he first met Pat Huber when he drove a Fed Ex truck during the day and attended night classes, and what a wonderful and helpful person she was even then. A champagne toast was then made to Dr. Huber, now the first female President of New River Community College.
Thompson and Chamber Executive Director Peggy White then presented the Chamber of Commerce Awards.
The Community Impact Award recognizes a non-profit/organization that has made a significant social impact for the betterment of the community. The four worthy nominees were
the Dublin Lions Club, Pulaski Christmas Store, the Pulaski Theatre and the NRV Agency on Aging.
The winner was The Pulaski Theatre, a restored historic theatre located on Main Street in Downtown Pulaski, which now serves as a cultural hub providing programming that includes concerts, live stage performances, motion pictures, children’s programming and special events.
Mountain 2 Island, Southern Harts, Al’s On First and Stand Out Fashions, each of which makes outstanding contributions to our community and economy, were the nominees for Small Business of the Year.
The winner was Al’s On First, a restaurant located, along with a hotel, in Pulaski inside a remodeled historic warehouse featuring exposed wood. People from all over the New River Valley enjoy dining in the friendly atmosphere that has made Al’s On First a local favorite.
The Business Excellence Award recognizes a business that has outstanding practices in managing the organization and achieving results, based on a set of fundamental concepts or values that work toward the betterment of the community. The list of worthy nominees for this award were Rural King, Martin’s Pharmacy, Service Contracting and Travis Team Realty.
The winner was Martin’s Pharmacy.
Serving the community since 1942, Martin’s Pharmacy is committed to personal service yet constantly expanding to include many patient care services. It is always their pleasure to serve their customers.
Each year, the Chamber recognizes an individual that has demonstrated the highest level of quality leadership and professionalism through their organization and community outreach. This year’s nominees were Agnieszka Fafara, President and CEO of Korona Candles, Inc.; Dr. Huber, President of New River Community College; and Sean Pressman, CEO of LewisGale Hospital – Pulaski.
The winner was Dr. Huber, a long-time employee of New River Community College who is now serving as the college’s first female president.
The Annual Banquet is also the time of year when the changing of the guard takes place concerning the Chamber President. Chamber President for 2018, Lisa Webb presented the report of her year as president in a very innovative fashion. In a video, she highlighted the top five areas the Chamber had been working in to support their membership. Several examples were photographically shown under each main topic. The main areas and some of the examples of each were:
Tourism: Virginia History Trails, Pulaski County Guide, Premier Golf, Festive Dining, Real Face Time, Lake Life.
Your Investment: I-81 Upgrade, NRV Rail 2020, Business After Hours.
Signature Events: Fall Fling Golf Tournament, Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet, Inspiring Pulaski County Women, Membership Luncheon, Local Officials Breakfast, Small Business EXPO, Networking on the Green.
Workforce Development: 8th Grade Reality Day, Manufacturing Day, Youth Excel Program, Monthly Job Expos at High School.
Business Promotion: Small Business Video Series, Teachers Make Business, Shop Small Saturday, Business Pop-up, Brand new Website.
Ms. Webb thanked the membership for their support, commitment, passion, dedication, and love throughout her year as President.
She received a Past President’s Plaque, and presented the gavel
to Joe Levine, 2019 President. Levine stated that he plans to continue with the Chamber’s current programs, plus add three of his own: an HR Group, a Young Professionals Group, and a Couch Steering
Committee. The Couch Steering Committee will consist of people who have good ideas to share with the Chamber, but are unable to come out to meetings. They will be able to send e-mails to a designated
address, then the e-mails will be reviewed by Chamber leadership.
Levine introduced the 2019 members of the Board of Directors: Robin Burdette, Brad Burruss, Bill Cunningham, Shay Dunnigan, Debbie Gardner, William Hale, Michael Harrison, Danielle Hiatt, Dr. Jack Knarr, Timothy Kirtner, Shelia Smith, Stacy Tuck, Sean Pressman, Michael Valach and Lisa Webb. Ex-Officio members are Dave Clark, Pat Huber, Andy McCready, Michael Solomon, Jonathan Sweet and Shawn Utt.
The Chamber wishes to thank the sponsors of this year’s event:
Venue Sponsor: Volvo Trucks North America
Reception Sponsor: Truliant Federal Credit Union
Video Sponsor: Union Bank and Trust
Awards Sponsor: National Bank
Music Sponsor: Member One Federal Credit Union
Annual Report Sponsor: Martin’s Pharmacy
Gold Sponsors: Alliance Xpress Urgent Care, Americare Plus, Appalachian Power, Cumulus, First Bank and Trust, Highland Ridge Rehab, LewisGale Hospital – Pulaski, The Patriot,
Pete Dye River Course, SERVPRO, Southwest Times, State Farm – Webb Donald, and Town of Pulaski.
Thanks were also expressed to Chamber Executive Director Peggy White, Chamber staff and
The Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to another busy and productive year, continuing the promotion of the Pulaski County is… initiative.
Prosperity is, we need to remember, not just about money, but about the ability of individuals to thrive in a particular environment. Remember, Pulaski County is… whatever we want it to be and what we all work together to help make it!