By Karen Hall
Members of Marshall County Chamber of Commerce met Monday for their annual dinner, filling the conference room at the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association building on North Ellington Parkway.
The Chamber is the initial point of contact for many people visiting Marshall County for the first time, whether in person or on the internet. The office on 2nd Avenue North takes phone calls, responds to requests for information, and makes referrals. The Chamber works with the Joint Economic and Community Development Board, the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance, and the city. Chamber members - who range from the smallest of small businesses to banks and large industries - benefit from seminars and networking opportunities, and meet the community at coffees and ribbon cuttings.
The Chamber's goal for 2013 is to "learn more, and do more for you (the members)," said incoming President Vicki Cain. She said Chamber ambassadors will be promoting business and industry.
"We are looking forward to a very successful 2013," said Cain at the end of the evening.
While enjoying a holiday meal prepared by Dannie Holmes Catering, the group honored members who were leaving the board of directors and applauded their replacements.
Business awards were presented. The Chamber member of the year award went to CB&S Bank. The small business of the year was the Old Rink Emporium, and the industry of the year was Southern Carton. The excellence in small business award went to Tillis Jewelry, and TWHBEA received the award for outstanding contributor.
Outgoing Chamber President Eric Michael was presented with a gavel.
Taking place in December, the Chamber dinner always features holiday-themed table decorations, and this year was no exception. The people's choice for the best decorated table was Heritage South Community Credit Union, while the traveling trophy was awarded to the Marshall County Tribune.
Junior board members, all but one from Marshall County High School, introduced themselves. They will be participating in a nine-week leadership program, and one will be awarded a college scholarship.
Lewisburg City Manager Tommy Engram gave a PowerPoint presentation called "The Square - what it is and what it could be."
"What I'm talking about is jobs," Engram said. "How do we get technology and talent to come into this community?
"Technology comes to talent, and talent comes to tolerance," the city manager continued, explaining he wasn't referring to racial tolerance, but to tolerance for new ideas, different gender roles, and so on.
The PowerPoint was illustrated with pictures of Lewisburg's square, juxtaposed with pictures of successful redevelopment in other downtowns.
"I have studied small towns all over America for the last 15 years," Engram said, recommending the addition of loft apartments to the upper floors of buildings on the square. In some of the pictures he pointed out buildings with brick side walls, and warned they could be vulnerable to water damage if left untreated. Water damage, in this case through the roof, might cause the loss of the Butler Brothers Hardware building on the southwest corner of the square, Engram warned.
"It's important to be as open and welcoming as we can be," Engram concluded, to warm applause.
Less than an hour before the Chamber's dinner started, the special Christmas light show on the east side of the courthouse made its debut. The lights, and music which can be heard by tuning to 89.7 FM, are a gift to the community by Edward and Lynda Potts, and can be seen from 5 p.m. to midnight every night during the holidays. See more pictures in Friday's paper.