Dynamite sticks -- not real ones, obviously -- decorated tables for what was described as a record-breaking turnout at the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce's 88th Annual Banquet.
Simmons Great Room at John Brown University was near capacity with 380 tickets purchased for the sold out event on Thursday night. The dynamite was part of the event's theme: "An Explosion of Growth." Dinner was served by Cherokee Casino and awards were handed out for everything from business of the year to 2018 Pioneer Citizens Shirley Dilbeck and Hank Harrison, who entertained the crowd with his humor and also recited a heartfelt poem he had written years ago.
"This is the most people we've ever had for a banquet," said chamber president/CEO Wayne Mays. "If any of you ever aspire to be a Pioneer Citizen, you might want to take note by the number of tickets that were sold by they year's honorees. They sold a lot of tickets and it's a huge help to us."
Martha Londagin, vice president of SBA/commercial lending at Legacy National Bank, served as guest speaker. The Siloam Springs High graduate spoke about her passion for small businesses and how the city has grown in the past 10 years. She also encouraged attendees to connect with opportunities the city offers like John Brown University, the downtown area and in nearby Oklahoma. In keeping with the "Explosion of Growth" theme, Londagin said partnering with those three areas is "key to the future" of Siloam Springs.
"You build the whole town by partnering together," Londagin said. "Take advantage of those unique aspects that you have that other Northwest Arkansas towns don't have and they can't buy ... This community has a special uniqueness about it. It has maintained that small-town joy and support for one another.
"Explore these unique things about Siloam Springs. Don't think you know about JBU. Don't think you know what's going on downtown and don't think you just know your neighbors out in Oklahoma.
"Explore those opportunities."
Katie Rennard of Crye-Leike Realtors served as the ambassador chair in 2017. She encouraged "a few more good men" to join by serving as ambassadors. They selected Marla Collins of Moss Insurance as the Moose Van Poucke Ambassador of the Year for "going above and beyond" by in her service with the chamber ambassadors.
Randy Torres with Day Spring Cards served as the event's emcee and recognized business of the year award recipients. Three finalists were named in each category based on volunteer hours, sponsorship and service on committees and boards. Winners received the highest votes by chamber ambassadors.
The Small Business of the Year was Butterfield Cabin, an event venue for meetings and other gatherings in West Siloam Springs.
"The only thing sweeter than Log Cabin syrup is the Butterfield Cabin and Genia VanDyck's hospitality," Torres said.
VanDyck's husband's business, Dr. Larry VanDyck Dentistry, was named the Mid-Sized Business of the Year and has been ranked "Best of the Best" for nine consecutive years, Torres said. "This establishment is really engaged in the community, not for what they can get, but what they can give," he added.
Cherokee Hotel & Casino was named the Large Business of the Year and offers "comfort, enjoyment and great food," while also being extra active in chamber events and serving on multiple event committees, Torres said.
The Jerry Cavness Non-Profit of the Year award was presented to The Ability Tree, which does "great work and does a great job serving our community," Torres said.
AEP/Southwestern Electric Power Company and Backstrom-Pyeatte Funeral Home were recognized as the 2018 Diamond Member, which honors companies for 40 years of continuous membership.
Outgoing board chairman Don Austin introduced incoming board chair Patrick Kerrwood. Austin spoke about the city's significant growth in retail development and said the chamber's membership had increased from 457 to 478 members in the past year.
Kerrwood kept with the "Explosion of Growth" theme by saying "the secret is out" and that Siloam Springs "is no longer a hidden gem."General News on 02/04/2018
Print Headline: Chamber celebrates 'explosive growth'