Chamber presents awardsThe New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce has honored local residents and businesses for their efforts during 2008.
The New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce has honored local residents and businesses for their efforts during 2008.
The local organization held its annual banquet Jan. 28 at R&D Banquet Facility and announced the honorees for a list of categories:
Citizen of the Year
Winner: Dennis Horner, New Richmond city administrator and utilities manager.
The Chamber’s Citizen of the Year award is given to someone who consistently puts his community and fellow citizens above his own interests, a person who makes the community a better place to live day in and day out by going beyond the boundaries of his job description and by giving up personal time when a helping hand is needed.
“This year’s Citizen of the Year certainly meets this criteria,” said Chamber Executive Director Russ Korpela. “Our recipient is first and foremost a dedicated husband and father of two and is a proud grandfather. Throughout the years he has made numerous contributions to the betterment of New Richmond.”
Over the years Horner has served the community in a variety of capacities: YOUth & Family Initiatives Committee; New Richmond Economic Development Corporation; helping make youth representation on local governmental bodies a reality; helping out at Community Asset Carnival, Fun Fest and Park Art Fair.
Recently, Horner has worked hard with others on the Government Entities Network to develop more cooperation between the City of New Richmond and local governments.
“He is leader for his employer and contributes to the various municipal committees that help New Richmond grow and prosper,” Korpela noted. “He is leader in his industry and has chaired several statewide committees in industry associations.”
Every community needs steady consistent leadership and this person was the right person for the job during the years of dramatic growth for New Richmond, Korpela said.
Originally from North Dakota, Horner and and his family have called New Richmond home for 24 years.
Large business of the year
Winner: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
Chamber officials saidy they selected WITC because it has been a “long time contributor to the New Richmond community and through its contributions has continually helped New Richmond succeed by providing a quality trained workforce.”
Having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in New Richmond, WITC has grown from a 50,000-square-foot building to over 118,000 square feet. The technical college’s employees are regular contributors to the community in a variety of areas.
“The present location of Fun Fest could not be possible without their patience and cooperation,” Chamber officials said.
WITC regularly partners with the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce to help deliver member education benefits.
WITC is also home to a state-of-the-art conference center outfitted with the latest in technology. They not only contribute to the training and networking of New Richmond citizens but also to the economy by drawing people from all over the region to New Richmond for conferences and seminars.
Recently awarded vocational training grants by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, WITC regularly provides customized training so area employers can expand with a more productive, well-trained workforce.
“But their primary mission is providing educational opportunities for the area citizens which lead to high paying jobs and help ensure a quality workforce for the region a critical factor in the long range success of the New Richmond area’s economic success,” chamber officials said. “Offering a wide variety of programs to choose from, their students are able to gain the training to have successful careers most often with two or less years of classes.”
Mom & Pop
Winner: Chickadee Doo-Da.
“The spirit of a community’s economy is often best demonstrated by the energy and investment of its Mom and Pop businesses,” Chamber Executive Director Russ Korpela said. “The year’s winner of the Mom and Pop Business of the Year Award is a great example of that.”
Founded in 2005, the sister owners of this gift shop set out to develop a store that sold fun, unique items for people of all tastes.
“Almost four years later their shop is one of most popular in town,” Korpela said.
In 2008 they bought their own building and moved to a new location in downtown New Richmond. They were one of the first recipients of the downtown storefront renovation loan from the regional revolving loan fund and set about redoing their storefront with an attractive historic look.
“It is hoped their project will serve as a model and inspiration for other in the future,” Korpela noted.
Cheryl Johnston and Joanne Fall accepted the award.
Small Business of the Year
Winner: J.A. Counter & Associates.
“The most successful companies are innovators in their field,” Korpela said. “This year’s recipent of the Small Business of the Year award has gained national recognition for their efforts.”
Long a leader in the region in providing insurance and employee benefit programs to companies, J.A. Counter & Associates also believe in community contributions both as a company and from it employees, Korpela said. Its staff has served on many boards, including leadership positions in the Rotary Club of New Richmond and the New Richmond Community Foundation.
“Their belief in service to the community has truly made New Richmond a better place to live,” Korpela said.
The firm is truly an innovator by making great strides in the past year to a next generation organization by creating a Results Only Work Environment. Employees are measured on the results they achieve rather than the number of hours they work in the office. Through the use of digital technology and tools, J.A. Counter’s employees are able to effectively conduct work anywhere in the world, including home, allowing them to focus on their job and efficiently meet the needs of their clients.
“These innovative strategies gained attention for the company and New Richmond from both regional and national news organizations, including an appearance on ‘Good Morning America,’” Korpela noted. “The company is now working with the nation’s brightest college students who are interested in learning from their efforts.”
Winners: Tammy Robinette and Marie Gremore.
The Chamber Member of the Year could aptly be named Volunteer of the Year because it is awarded to the member, or members, who best helps advance the cause of the chamber in a volunteer capacity, Korpela said.
“It is that member, without whose contribution, the chamber could not be successful,” Korpela said. “In Super Bowl terms, our MVP.”
Robinette and Gremore are two of the chamber’s most active ambassadors and actively contribute to that group in many ways. They can be found at every chamber event, including Fun Fest and Park Art Fair for multiple shifts of time. They attend almost every ribbon cutting, member visit, Business After Five and all the other member events. Beyond volunteering, they regularly share their talents and skills in other chamber leadership roles.
“Equally important, they have created a culture of service within their office and not only do they volunteer but they always bring several other volunteers with them,” Korpela said. “Their staff and colleagues are invaluable in that capacity as well as promoting membership in the chamber.”
Korpela said the pair works for a organization, Westconsin Credit Union, that supports and encourages such involvement and is a long time member of the chamber and one its strongest supporters.