By Andrea McCann
CRANE, Ind. — Members and guests were welcomed to the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development 2012 Annual Banquet Tuesday evening by Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Samantha Bobbitt and Daviess County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ron Arnold.
The annual event was held this year at the Westgate Academy at Crane, which will host its own ribbon cutting next week.
Bobbitt made Daviess County history as the first woman to be named chamber director, so the theme of her welcome speech was history-making events that have occurred in her tenure of just more than a year. Groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings at the Westgate Tech Park were among milestones Bobbitt noted.
“This tech park may be at the very northern edge of Daviess County, but we need to keep our eyes open to the project and what it can do for our area future if we continue to work together with local leaders to make this park successful,” she said. “Businesses like the Battery Innovation Center and the incubators this building will hold will be the businesses that create jobs that ensure economic development for our area.”
The construction of I-69 is another project for the county’s history books that will provide economic development opportunities for the future, according to Bobbitt.
“It will make getting to a few of the larger communities a little faster, but it will change much more than that,” she said. “Large interstates typically bring businesses to capitalize from their location. We hope to capitalize from the profitable businesses that locate here.”
Bobbitt said she doesn’t know what businesses may be coming to the area or where they might locate; all she knows is that there will be change. She said residents must look at the changes in a positive light and find ways to use them to make Daviess County an even better place to live.
Making the county a place to play is also important to economic development, and to that end the chamber and visitors center is establishing a Historic Geocache Trail — a high-tech scavenger hunt — throughout the county to promote tourism. The trail is being created with a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
Arnold welcomed the crowd and talked about the Westgate Tech Park and the Westgate Academy. Arnold also explained how the construction was funded and talked about resources.
“It's just a great facility and great addition to Daviess County,” he said.
The President’s Award was presented to outgoing Chamber President Eric Headley by Alan Goodwin, who congratulated his board on a good year.
“There's a lot of good things Samantha has planned for the chamber,” he said. “I encourage members to get involved.”
Dinner and other award presentations followed, with the 2012 Dillon Tourism Award accepted by Levi Raber for Dinky’s Auction Center. The annual award is named for Lucille Dillon, a champion of county tourism, and presented by Bobbitt.
RTC Communications was recognized as the Business of the Year, with Alan Goodwin, incoming chamber president, making that presentation to RTC head, Deron Steiner. RTC is a member-owned cooperative that focuses on providing the latest technology at the best possible price to its customers.
The Hagel Award is presented annually to a person who’s made a difference to business and industry in the county. This year, Dave Cox was recipient of the award, presented by Bob Barron.
The Art R. Boddy Award, named for a respected engineer and philanthropist, is given to a volunteer who moves the county forward, making it a better place to live. Presented by Rev. George Qualley, this year’s award went to Bob Barron.
Entertainment by Jamie Utley and comedian Mike Armstrong rounded out the evening.