Dear Member - November 25, Annual Meeting

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You know that natural high you get when something so good happens that you feel it right to your very soul? You want it to last forever! That’s the feeling I had last week at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. The caliber of businesses and individuals who were nominated was something special. Each and every nominee should feel proud of their individual accomplishments as well as what they have brought to the table collectively to make 2019 an unbelievable year for Pulaski County and its citizens.

Thursday was a perfect night in a perfect setting, representative of the caliber of people attending this event at the Volvo Customer Experience Center. And, to top off an already memorable evening, the experience culminated with Carl Hamm sharing his vocal presentation of "Proud To Be An American.” It was a fitting ending to an evening devoted to celebrating the contributions of our ethical, moral, strong, and proud members.

A sense of pride came from the synergy in the room as it became more and more evident that Pulaski County is advancing progressively to the forefront. It was not very long ago that I attended meetings where no one cared about or inquired about Pulaski County. Now, when you walk into a meeting, eyes are on Pulaski County. You are generally greeted with “Wow, what are you all doing in Pulaski County? You have it going on!” I feel a sense of pride in just being a part of Pulaski and I hope our Annual Meeting gave everyone in attendance that same feeling of pride.

At the Chamber’s awards program, each nominees accomplishments and achievements helped affirm that our feelings about our county are warranted. The Southwest Times Award, which has been presented at the Chamber banquet since 1972, went to our Joe Blankenship this year. Joe is a wonderful gentleman who gives unselfishly throughout the year; his food contributions and spiritually are much needed and appreciated.

The Community Impact Award honored Adaire Theatre for its tremendous contributions as a community arts asset. Adaire is known for reaching into the community and recognizing raw talent and also developing the talent of our youth in visual arts and performance. They are professionals at, as they say, “making theatre happen anywhere.”

The award for Small Business of the Year went to Iron Heart Winery for their innovative approach to business. Their philosophy is if the business doesn’t come to you, you go to where the business is. They accomplished this with their renovated Bud Beer Truck that is now the Iron Heart Winery Truck. It's really cool!

The Business Excellence award recognizes the business that goes the extra mile and contributes to the overall quality of life in the community though their business practices. We are fortunate to have many businesses that believe in doing that every day. One business that stood out is the beloved Blue Ridge Fudge Lady. Her unwavering love of Pulaski County is always at the forefront in her everyday business practices as she continues to promote business through her love of Pulaski County.

The 2019 Business Executive of the Year was a tough competition; each person nominated has gone "above and beyond". This year’s nominees were Guy Smith, Director of Social Services in Pulaski County, who was recognized for his work with the TG Howard Foundation. Guy has brought this foundation to the forefront, and we appreciate what the foundation brings to our community. Thank you, Guy!

Our second nominee, Jay O’Brien, is a silent giant who worked hard to make sure SWVA was heard on the I-81 crisis. He also contributes to the education of the youth in our community while working on developing second chances for people who need to be given that opportunity.

Our third nominee and the 2019 Business Executive of the Year, Sean Pressman, C.E.O. of LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, continues to lead Pulaski Hospital to greater heights. He is putting the Hospital on the map while also serving the needs of the community with the new behavioral health unit.

Realizing all that the nominees and the recipients of these awards have accomplished for Pulaski creates a sense of pride. I’m filled with appreciation and respect for our membership. Speaking of our membership, let’s talk about some of the overall achievements that have occurred through the members this year. To start, the Chamber membership provided over 500 hours in workforce development events to students in Pulaski County Schools. They did this not for acknowledgement or support, but because they care about the development of young people in our county. We want our children to have a great future. On the promotional front, we made over 600 posts that reached over 500,000 people, and we served over 13,000 readers with the Monday Morning e-letter. In tourism, we hosted regional SWVA Visitor Center staff at Calfee Park and worked with the American Evolution Committee bringing over 100 events to commemorate this 400 year celebration. Also, we were awarded a grant for the "50 Years of Love" Campaign that promoted over 18 businesses and events using the Volvo Truck #whereisthelovepcva.

It is wonderful to see that we reach beyond our county borders and are infused in businesses and services throughout the valley and the region. Sunday when I dropped my daughter off at the airport in Roanoke, I was surprised to see the "50 Years of Love", #whereisthelovepcva Volvo Truck at the entrance of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. With all of our love, it was a greeting to the travelers and visitors coming to the valley, and showing them some Pulaski County LOVE. Pulaski is on the move!


Work hard, be productive, and, above all else, stay positive.
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