SEK Chamber honors business community at awards banquet

Staff Report

PIKEVILLE – On Thursday, August 18, the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce hosted its 59th Annual Awards Banquet at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center. The event was presented by Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Over 500 business and community leaders came together to celebrate the accomplishments of the business community of Eastern Kentucky. Headlining the event was Carey Smith, Founder of Big Ass Fans.

Local businesses and leaders in the community were honored at the Chamber banquet.

The recipients folloe.

The Chamber Ambassador of the Year recognizes an individual that has committed countless hours to the Chamber’s Ambassador Club. The Ambassador Club is the “goodwill arm” of the organization and its members. They support Chamber members and Chamber events throughout the year. This year’s Ambassador of the Year was Ellen Blackburn.

The Volunteer of the Year recognizes an individual that devotes time, energy and resources to the Chamber and other regional nonprofit organizations. This year’s Volunteer of the Year was Crystal Wells. Wells has been very successful within her career and has used her success to give back and be a true example of volunteerism.

This year’s Outstanding Contribution by a Business Award recipient was the Hilton Garden Inn. The Hilton Garden Inn plays a large role in supporting community events and fundraisers through staff volunteerism and company resources.

This year’s Small Business of the Year was Redd, Brown and Williams Real Estate Services. They are one of the tristate area’s leading real estate and appraisal production companies. Redd, Brown and Williams has expanded their market share to provide services in seven counties with offices in Paintsville, Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Louisa.

The Service Organization of the Year was The Jordan Light Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to provide awareness, support and funding for families with a financial medical crisis. The foundation supports children that are 18 and under and traveling greater than 75 miles from home for treatment. To date, over 400 families have received financial assistance through The Jordan Light Foundation.

This year’s Citizen of the Year was Mike Alexander. Mr. Alexander has consistently demonstrated excellence in professional and community leadership. He is active in the local community and spends time serving on the Pikeville Tourism, SEKY Chamber, Pikeville Rotary and Pikeville Main Street Boards.

The award for Business Person of the Year is given to an individual who has demonstrated support for the advancement of the region and shown innovative leadership in business. This year’s Business Person of the Year was W. Allen Gillum. Gillum strives to be an advocate to diversifying the region’s economy and being a job creator for Eastern Kentucky.

This year’s Business of the Year was Johnson Industries. In 1981, five Johnson brothers established Johnson Industries and immediately started manufacturing. Today, Johnson Industries is still growing and expanding into new areas. Their most recent success comes from a mineral testing system called the Uni-Sampler. Johnson Industries Sampling Systems successfully operate in the United States, China, India, Russia and Ukraine.

The Junior Williamson Ambassador of the Year Award has been given since 1991 in honor of the late Junior Williamson and his continuous efforts as a true advocate for East Kentucky. This year’s recipient of the Junior Williamson Award was Jared Arnett. Arnett, as the Executive Director of SOAR, strives to be an advocate for job creation in Eastern Kentucky and has shown passion and dedication to our region by being a true ambassador.

The Lon B. and Mary Evelyn Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has spent years of their life striving to make the region a better place. This year’s recipient of the Lon B. and Mary Evelyn Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award was Honorable Leslie Combs. Combs got her start in 2006, when she was first elected into the Kentucky House of Representatives. She has spent six years as a director on the Kentucky state Chamber of Commerce and she twice served as president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce while being a long-time member.

During the event the Patton Leadership Institute class was also recognized for completing the 9-month program. The class had 21 graduates.

The 59th Annual Awards Banquet was supported by numerous sponsors.

Presenting Sponsor: Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Platinum Sponsors: Appalachian Wireless; Community Trust Bank; East Kentucky Broadcasting; University of Pikeville; and Walters Auto Group.

Gold Sponsors: Above and Beyond; AEP Kentucky Power; BB&T; Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center; Pepsi Bottling Company; and WYMT-TV.

Silver Level Sponsors: Appalachian News-Express; Appalachian Regional Healthcare; Baird & Baird, PSC; Bit Source; Busy Bee Septic Systems; Citizens Bank of Kentucky; Coca-Cola; Fairway Outdoor Advertising; Food City; Hilton Garden Inn; Humana CareSource; Johnson Industries; Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company; Lynette Schindler, CPA, PSC; Perry Distributors; Pikeville Medical Center; Redd, Brown and Williams Real Estate Services; US Bank; and Vantage Point Advertising

Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (SEKC) is committed to improving the local economy, regional unity, political advocacy, and economic development; ultimately, improving the quality of life for citizens of the entire region. With over 500 member businesses that employ 20,000+ employees in 8 counties, SEKC provides a support network for businesses in Southeast Kentucky.

Staff Report


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