Shining a spotlight on the past year's accomplishments, the Bay County Chamber of Commerce celebrated its Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Friday January 27th at the Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort.
2011 Chairman of the Board, Bo Rivard of Harrison Rivard Duncan & Buzzett officially passed the gavel to 2012 Chairman Al McCambry of Knology. Rivards term as chairman included continued efforts to support our local military installations, advocate for the business community through our legislative agenda, partnering with local community leaders for the betterment of the tourism and manufacturing industry and the promotion of economic growth. Specifically under Rivard's leadership, the Chamber played a vital role in the expansion and job growth at Eastern Shipbuilding and the protection of property rights within the Hugh Nelson Industrial Park. Also, during Rivard's Chairmanship, the Chamber was privileged to work with Bay County's local delegation and statewide elected officials in creating renewed focus on the industry and military installations of Bay County and Northwest Florida.
The awards portion of the program began with Gary Anderson, Chairman of the Small Business Institute, who presented the Jerry Mills Small Business of the Year Award to Mad Hatter Automotive Center. David Lovett, owner, accepted the award. Mad Hatter Automotive Center was selected by the Chamber's Small Business Institute because their business demonstrated successful growth, stability and community involvement. The award is named after local businessman Jerry Mills. Mills was the first chairman of the Small Business Committee. He was the epitome of a successful one man small business, who continuously gave back to the community and to the Chamber not only financially but with personal commitment.
The last award of the night which deserves the most recognition was the Lauren Merriam Memorial Award, the Chamber's highest honor. Tom Neubauer, presented the 2011 award to Glen McDonald, who was chosen for this award for his commitment to the community's well being, as exemplified by involvement in civic, charitable and/or endeavors contributing to the betterment of Bay County and the benefit of its citizens. McDonald has served in every capacity at the Bay County Chamber including Chairman of the Board in 2006 and the Military Affairs Committee in 2007. Most recently he served as 2011 Chairman of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance for the second time in his career. McDonald has been heavily involved with the Bay Defense Alliance for the past decade. Maintaining relationships with high level military and federal officials to secure the future of Tyndall AFB and Naval Support Activity has been a high priority for McDonald.