The Carmi Chamber of Commerce hosted their 72nd annual Dinner on Monday night at the First Christian Church in Carmi. 235 guests made reservations for the event, making it the largest ever. Those in attendance had an excellent meal by Yesterday’s Catering that was served by members of the Carmi-White County Lady Bulldogs softball team and got a bright outlook on the future of Carmi’s business community.
Mayor Jeff Pollard gave his State of the City address, which highlighted the work his office and the City Council have done to improve Carmi’s infrastructure and how the City has reorganized its departments in an effort to improve service and record keeping. Pollard stated that it is his goal to improve the business climate in the City for existing business and encourage new businesses to move in.
Pollard’s comments were followed by Keith Moran of Moran Economic Development, who gave the audience an update on the new TIF district that he is working on with the City, and an update on the application for a new Enterprise Zone in conjunction with Albion, Grayville, and the White County Board. Moran urged businesses to support the new Zone application with letters. Those interested in doing so can contact Sandra Irvine at the Carmi City office.
Dr. Clint Taylor introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Tracy Orr. Orr is the facilitator of the White County CEO program that was launched this fall at Carmi-White County and NCOE high schools. The program meets every morning from 7:30 – 9 am, and Orr related how in a short amount of time, how the enrolled students have grown. Four of those students, Abigail Bryant, Brenna Williams, Maggiann Ackerman, and Ashtyn Cowling each addressed the audience and thanked those who have contributed to the program so far.
Outgoing Chamber president Andy Acord expressed his thanks to the Chamber Board, and introduced new Chamber President Caleb Hughes, who promised to continue the work of the Chamber, which now has 161 member businesses.
Acord returned to the podium and presented the Small Business of the Year award to Taylor Eye Care. Dr. Taylor was happily surprised to find that his staff had come to the event to see him accept the award and thanked their dedication and hard work for their customers.
The Large Business of the Year award was presented to Little Giant Grocery. Ron Kingery and John Williams accepted the award to a standing ovation, and both seemed humbled by the accolade.
Toby Brown presented the Carmi Citizen of the Year award to a shocked Tim Gholson, who was nominated for the countless hours of service he does for the community. Gholson tearfully thanked those present for the honor.