The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce looked back on the accomplishments of 2019 and honored its outstanding members Friday evening at the Chamber’s annual celebration at the RiverPark Center.
The evening was an opportunity “to reflect on our last year, and all the great things that happened in our community,” Chamber president and CEO Candance Castlen Brake said. Chamber board member Steve Johnson said the evening was “a celebration of past successes, as well as a look ahead.”
“Our successes come from setting lofty goals,” Johnson said.
Outgoing board chairman Dave Roberts said the organization’s goals for 2019 included increasing downtown livability and “placemaking” and workforce development.
Roberts said Chamber workforce initiatives included the “Teachers in the Workplace” program, where teachers meet with employers to discuss what businesses are looking for in future employees, and the “Community Campus” program, which gives students tools to meet the expectations of employers.
“We are skilling up high schoolers, so they are ready to hit the workforce,” Roberts said. Another Chamber initiative helps women earn associate degrees, and provides child care to participants, Roberts said.
“It’s empowering women … to go out and earn an associate’s degree,” Roberts said.
Those programs “don’t happen without a vibrant Chamber,” Roberts said. “We are all contributing to these efforts to expand the community.”
Incoming president Jack Wells said the Chamber has existed since 1913.
“We really stand for the principles we’ve stood for for over 100 years,” Wells said. This year, the Chamber would continue to focus on workforce development and would work to “add value to our small businesses, nonprofits and large employers,” Wells said.
“Let’s be the best we can be in 2020,” Wells said.
Master of ceremonies Kirk Kirkpatrick said there was much to be proud of in the community.
“Look at where Owensboro is,” Kirkpatrick said. “Right now, in 2020, Owensboro is a destination city. For the first time ever, Owensboro is on the interstate.”
The city has also been named a top city for millennials, and a best small city.
“Any other city our size would be thrilled to have any of those accolades,” Kirkpatrick said.
Chamber of Commerce 2020 award winners:
• Emerging Business of the Year — Rowland Family Dentistry LLC
• Business of the Year, 1-10 Employees — Tanner+West
• Business of the Year, 11-50 Employees — Greenwell Chisholm
• Business of the Year, Over 50 Employees — Boardwalk Pipeline Partners
• Nonprofit of the Year — New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services
• Education and Workforce Development Institution of the Year — Daviess County Public Library
• Manufacturer of the Year — Kentucky Legend
• Rick Kamuf Agri-Business of the Year — Farm Credit Mid-America, ACA
• 2019 Chamber Ambassadors of the Year — Amber Farmer, Disaster Team and Michael Vanover, Helton Insurance Agency
• 2019 Chamber Director of the Year — Rod Kuegel, Kuegel Farms
• 2019 Leadership Owensboro Class Member of the Year — Erica Wade, The Center
• 2019 CYP Member of the Year — Shaelie Velez, WFIE TV
• 2019 Chamber Member of the Year — Owensboro Community & Technical College
• Bill Young Community Leadership Award — David Edds, Jr.