DOBSON — The new chairman of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce was ushered into office Thursday during an evening banquet held at Surry Community College.
Instead of delivering an acceptance speech filled with fanfare and praise, Chairman Steve Owings of State Farm Insurance started his tenure by addressing past and present circumstances impacting the business climate. “The Yadkin Valley has seen a major loss of jobs in 2007… We are still recovering. We still have major challenges,” he said.
Owings transitioned the attention-grabbing speech by citing optimism with several businesses growing in success, or who have moved into the Yadkin Valley region over the last few years. Owings pointed to the developing viticulture community for being a strong partner to the region, and success stories such as the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival held in Elkin each year.
Owings reminded members that recruitment of new business members was a responsibility that falls on each member.
“I ask each of us to go out there and recruit a new business. Bring one new business to our chamber… Invite them to one of our meetings. Buy them dinner. Introduce them to people you know in the chamber… That’s how we’ll grow,” said Owings.
Owings comments were part of the 2014 Annual Members Meeting. The signature event historically provides for a ceremony that presents the changing of its chairman, installation of officers, followed by an awards presentation.
Myra Cook, president of the YVCC, started the ceremony by welcoming members to the gala. “You have made me feel so welcomed over the last year. I really wish for all of you to know how thankful I am,” she said.
Providing the invocation was Dr. Randy Bledsoe, superintendent of Elkin City Schools. After the prayer, Bledsoe looked up at the crowd and said, “We’re just a happy bunch of people who live in a great area we call the Yadkin Valley.”
The special guest speaker of the evening was Dr. Dennis Carroll, High Point University provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. Carroll, a Surry Central High School alumni, provided testimony and a video on advancements the university has made in recent years.
In his last comments as chairman, Jerry Stroud of Duke Energy informed chamber members that it was a pleasure to serve in the capacity as chair during the last year. “We’re in good hands with Steve,” said Stroud.
Both Stroud and Owings received a thunderous applause during the transition. Owning proceeded with the installation of the officers and shifted into the membership awards presentation.
Award recipients were:
• Adam McComb received the Johnsie Hudspeth Volunteer of the Year Award.
• Dr. Bill Blackley received the Duke Energy Award. Accepting the award for Blackley was Will Gwyn of Greenhill Environmental.
• Tonya Smith received the Education Excellence Award.
• Rhythm on Main received the Community Beautification Award.
• Elkin Creek Vineyard and Winery received the Rebel Good Award.
• Carey Gupton of the Yadkin Valley Rotary was selected as chamber Member of the Year.
• Pam Walker of Mazzini Family Restaurant was awarded the Web Smalling Corporate Citizen Award.
• Sherry Norman of Habitat for Humanity received the Ambassador of the Year Award.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.