Chamber highlights area businessesPublished 11:14pm Friday, February 1, 2013
The Washington Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce continued a 110-year tradition with its selections of the top businesses and community leaders of the year. The awards were announced Thursday at the annual Chamber banquet.
Ambassadors of the year were the most active members of the Chamber. Alma Friedman and Cecilia Prokos were honored as this year’s ambassadors.
“They do a lot for their community,” said Catherine Glover, executive director of the Chamber.
The ambassadors were determined by a point system. For every event the members attended, they were given points.
In the rest of the categories, members of the Chamber submitted nomination letters and board members selected award-winners. Selections were based on the nomination letters and criteria like press and public service.
“This was the largest nominating year that we’ve ever had. This was a really big year,” Glover said.
Each category had eight to 12 nominations.
PotashCorp-Aurora was awarded Business of the Year. Ray McKeithan, manager of public and government affairs at PotashCorp-Aurora, said the competitive pool of nominees made the award extra special.
“We’re very honored for the recognition. Our core values of the company are safety; environmental stewardship, and community investment and we feel this reflects our commitment to being a good civic partner and giving back where we live and work,” McKeithan said.
The Chamber is an important partner to PotashCorp, McKeithan said. The organization helps PotashCorp build relationships with local businesses and the community at large.
Entrepreneurs of the year were E. Bryan Stocks and B. Selden Taylor of Stocks and Taylor Construction. Family surrounded Stocks and Taylor at the event. Katherine and Taze Taylor came down from Virginia to support their nephew, Selden. Taze Taylor called him a rising star.
“If he isn’t famous yet, he will be,” Taze Taylor said before the award ceremony.
Russell’s Men’s Shop was recognized as Small Business of the Year.
Ronda Lyons, sales associate and buyer for the shop’s gifts and ladies clothing divisions, said owner Russell Smith had know idea he was nominated. The recognition came as a complete surprise.
“I’m very pleased that Russell received the award,” Lyons said. “He deserves it after celebrating his 30th year in business on Main Street. I can say Russell is truly passionate about his customers, his community and downtown Washington.”
Penny Sermons was surprised that she was recognized for her work as chair of the 300 Committee, organizers of the county’s celebration of its 300th anniversary.
“I was just completely shocked and surprised,” Sermons said. “It’s a wonderful feeling when you put so much of yourself into something and you’re then acknowledged this way. I just really, really appreciate.”
Sermons said the celebration was a team effort. She enjoyed working with such a diverse group and seeing plans come to fruition.
Sermons has signed up to plan the June 9 return of the North Carolina Symphony.
“Im really looking forward to working on that,” she said.
The North Carolina Estuarium was awarded nonprofit of the year.
Tom stroud, director of the Estuarium, said, “We’re very honored to receive the award and hope it reflects the things we try to do for the community.”