By AMANDA GRAY
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The annual meeting of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce celebrated the unique local community Thursday afternoon at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds.
The 2012 meeting featured presentations and award recognitions of community and Chamber members. More than 400 Chamber members and local residents attended the meeting.
“Without you, this wouldn’t be possible,” Chamber president David Daugherty said to the attendees.
Glenn Stutzman, the 2012 Executive Board Chair for the Chamber, said he believes in the power of local businesses working together to make Goshen a better place to live and work.
“I believe the real strength of our Chamber, though we elect a new board every year, is that we work together to create a strategic plan and execute it.”
The 2012 strategic plan included community marketing and branding initiatives, economic development, public policy, education and Hispanic business involvement, Stutzman said. Though the Chamber did not have as much success in Hispanic business involvement as they would have liked, 2012 was a successful year for many aspects of the strategic plan, Stutzman said.
“Our new branding initiative has been well received, and I encourage you to find a way to use it in your business,” Stutzman told the Chamber members. “I’m sure it will positively affect the way Goshen is looked at.”
The new branding initiative, summed up in the phrase “Goshen: Common Good, Uncommonly Great,” is the product of a process that started at the 2009 retreat for the executive board, Stutzman told the members. From there, it has gone from an idea to a reality, after a development process in 2011 and a controlled roll-out in 2012.
Also successful is the Launch Pad, a new business incubator that will be in the second floor of the Chamber’s downtown building, Stutzman said.
“Our goal is to have the Launch Pad open for business in the spring of 2013,” Stutzman said.
Stutzman’s presentation also took a turn to physical improvements — the need for a new heating and air conditioning system in the Chamber’s building. They system has failed repeatedly, he said, and needs to be replaced soon.
“We began working on the fundraising a few weeks ago, and I’m happy to say we’re almost half-way to our goal,” Stutzman said.
The goal is to raise $300,000 for the new system, according to a brochure handed out at the meeting.
Stutzman passed his duties onto the 2013 Executive Board Chair, Dr. Larry Brooks from IU Health Goshen Hospital, who said the executive board wishes to carry on many of the successes seen in 2012.
“The resilience (of the Chamber) is because of all of you,” Brooks said in his closing presentation. “I’m proud of the entrepreneurial spirit here.”
Awards and recognitions
Chris Smith, chair of the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee and from Interra Credit Union, handed out awards to the 2012 recipients. Awards included Small Business of the Year, the Maple Leaf Award for a small business and large business and the Volunteer of the Year.
The Small Business Award went to Mattern’s Butchershop and Deli, and was accepted by owner Dustin Mattern.
“Since they’ve opened in 2009, they’ve just grown,” Smith said.
Mattern was excited to receive the award, and he contributed his business’ success to working well with family.
“All I can say is that if it wasn’t for Goshen’s community, and all of our friends that we know, I wouldn’t be up here getting this award,” Mattern said. “It’s great to work alongside my family. It has it’s moments, yes, but it also has its sweet moments. One of the great parts of the day is to say when you get home and can say you can work with your family and have a successful business.”
The Maple Leaf Award for small business went to the Olympia Candy Kitchen, accepted by Kare Andersen, the fourth generation to own and operate the shop.
“They’ve been in the same location in Goshen for a century now,” Smith said. “They’ve been inviting customers into their shop to taste chocolates or have lunch, and they’re built on the values of family.”
Andersen said he was thankful for the award, which celebrates the hard work of the shop’s small staff.
“We feel very privileged to be in downtown Goshen,” Andersen said. “It’s a very vibrant city, and we hear that all the time from other people about small towns dying off, but not Goshen.”
Martin’s Supermarket received the large business Maple Leaf Award. Though the store only opened in 2006, Martin’s has wanted to join the Goshen community for more than 20 years, according to assistant store manager Randy Jones, who accepted the award.
“It’s an honor to accept this award from an organization that places such an emphasis on helping the community like we do,” Jones said.
Vince Turner was named Volunteer of the Year. Turner was surprised, he said, to win the award.
“I don’t get surprised very often because I have four children and eight grandchildren so I’ve learned to be on guard, but thank you,” he said.