Annual Huntington County Chamber dinner is night for listing 2018 accomplishments

Randy Warner (left) chairman of the board of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce, presents his predecessor, Steve Petry, with a plaque recognizing the latter’s year as board chairman at the chamber’s annual meeting on Monday night, Jan. 21, at the Huntington PAL Club.
Randy Warner (left) chairman of the board of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce, presents his predecessor, Steve Petry, with a plaque recognizing the latter’s year as board chairman at the chamber’s annual meeting on Monday night, Jan. 21, at the Huntington PAL Club. Photo by Scott Trauner.

Monday was not only a night for laughs, it was a night of pride, as the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce reviewed its accomplishments the past year and what it hopes to accomplish in the new year ahead.

At the chamber’s annual dinner on Jan. 21, Executive Director Steve Kimmel told about 150 attendees to relax and enjoy the evening, as awards were presented, followed by some fun.

Awards included naming the ambassador of the year, given to Kolby Rosemeyer of First Merchants Bank. Petry said Rosemeyer could be found at chamber events including ribbon cuttings, open houses, After Hours and Business of the Month celebrations.

“(Rosemeyer) works hard, attending as many events as possible,” said Steve Petry, the chamber’s 2018 chairman of the board. “He volunteers for other activities as time allows.”

The volunteer of the year was presented to Andrew Rensberger, community engagement volunteer coordinator for the City of Huntington.
“(He) not only goes above and beyond the call of duty, to not only find volunteers for projects but volunteers himself throughout the community,” Petry said. “His assistance was especially appreciated during the opening of the 2018 farmers market and the 2018 Christmas in the City event.”

The chamber’s 2018 community excellence award went to JJ’s and the Stanley family.

“Their support makes the Huntington community a better place to live, work and play,” Petry said. “This business offers support to Parkview Huntington Hospital, Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, Huntington University, Huntington County Chamber of Commerce and many more too numerous to mention. Although this family was busy operating their own business this past year, they still found time to be chairs for the 2018 United Way campaign.”

Outgoing board members were also recognized, including Kay Schwob, Ryan Lemon, Trace Hinesley and Ben Davis. They were replaced with new nominees Brock Zehr, of Huntington University; Kerry Beaver, of Lime City Title Services LLC; Leanne Runyan, of Miller’s Merry Manor; Randy Harris, of Huntington County Community School Corporation; and Todd Latta, of Parkview Huntington Family YMCA.

Petry, in his last task as outgoing chairman of the board, outlined the chamber’s achievements during 2018, including how it accomplished the goals it set out to do.

“Some of those included validating our structure, kind of evaluating what we were doing and what we were accomplishing,” Petry said. “The reason was not because we wanted to just change for the sake of change, but because we wanted to truly understand what was going on in the business climate we have.”

Improvements included the creation of ad hoc committees to deal with issues and needs facing local businesses. Petry called the move effective, and said the new board chairman for 2019, Randy Warner, will do a good job moving forward in utilizing the committees.

Petry also enumerated the Chamber’s activities over the past year, including organizing a successful Heritage Days festival, farmers market, organizing a recognition and celebration of Helen Purviance, Huntington’s “Doughnut Lady,” help in presenting “Rushmore Live” featuring historical interpreter/speakers, the “A B.I.G. (Agriculture, Business, Industry, Government) Day” Golf Outing, 170th anniversary of the establishment of the City of Huntington, Veterans Day parade and finishing of the Purple Heart Monument at Memorial Park and plaques honoring the county’s war casualties.

He also mentioned the Chamber’s Viking PRIDE program – which stands for Persistence, Respectfulness, Initiative, Dependability and Efficiency – in which senior students earn the certification through a rigorous program at Huntington North High School.

Petry gave special recognition to those who came together to create a successful Christmas in the City celebration in December, which was attended by hundreds of people.

“We had some things we needed to do at the last minute,” he explained. “People came together and worked together as a team and it was a beautiful experience.”

A new group, called HYPE – Huntington Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs – was formed in 2018. Petry said he is interested to see the impact the group will have in the future.

A new mentoring program was also introduced in 2018, and the chamber is now a SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) satellite office, offering mentoring and resources to new and existing businesses.

Warner outlined the chamber’s goals for 2019, including the Business Expo event coming in March, Heritage Days scheduled in June and new topics for the chamber’s HR Group and Lunch and Learn series. In addition, he said the chamber plans to expand its networking opportunities to allow its members to have a deeper sense of community and connection.

“Our mission is to support local businesses and to promote an atmosphere in which businesses thrive and the quality of life in our community improves,” Warner said. “As we work to fulfill that mission, the Chamber will work hard to support businesses and organizations in Huntington County that make Huntington County what it is – a great place to work and live, and hopefully play as well.”

A bit of that playtime topped the evening, as nationally-recognized comedian and impressionist Cyrus Steele, of Atlanta, GA, sent the crowd home in a jovial mood.