PCS Phosphate, Frank’s Pizza receive praise from chamber
Annual membership banquet highlights county progress
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
Discussing progress and praise over round tables and roast beef, Beaufort County business leaders gathered Thursday night to take stock of what they have accomplished in the past year.
For the 104th time, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership banquet to highlight the progress of the municipalities it works with to improve their business climates. The banquet was held at Beaufort County Community College.
Lee Hemink, the chamber’s executive director, opened with a speech noting the county’s milestones since last year’s banquet.
The chamber’s strategy is not only to recruit new business but to retain them, Hemink said. Because of that retention effort, the county has a business-retention rate of 93 percent, compared with a national average of 80 percent, he said.
Near the close of the banquet, four awards were presented to members of the chamber. Kay Currie received the Ambassador of the Year Award for the third year in a row. The award was retired in her honor after the presentation. Lewis Sloan, chairman of the Summer Festival from 2004 through 2007, was given a special award for his leadership.
Richard Atwood, general manager of PCS Phosphate, accepted the Community Leader of the Year Award for the company. Hemink said PCS Phosphate employees are responsible for more than 400 hours of community service a year.
The Business Leader of the Year Award went to Frank’s Pizza owners Vinnie and Tony Cilluffo.
The mayors of each county municipality were invited as guest speakers to spotlight the progress specific to their communities. Each was allowed seven minutes to address chamber members. The mayors of Belhaven and Pantego did not attend.
Jennette said Moss Landing, Warren Field Airport’s new skydiving school and the renovation of the Turnage Theater are positive signs of growth and renewal in the city.
Aurora Mayor Pro Tempore Clif Williams said the town is waiting hopefully for the ground breaking of the proposed ethanol plant there and thanked PCS for shaping the future of the town.
Washington Park has experienced a tremendous building increase and now has a total property value of $35 million, Mayor Tom Richter said.
Bath Mayor Jimmy Latham said the prospect of new construction on the borders of the historic town has placed impetus on the protection of existing structures like the Swindell Store. Bath was visited by people from 18 countries last year, he said.
Chocowinity Mayor James Mobley Jr. offered the town’s new police station as evidence of the town’s growth. He said the town is negotiating development of three new subdivisions and working with the county to extend sewer lines toward Southside High School in anticipation of growth in that direction.