Chamber bestows honors at annual meeting
Last year was a transitional — maybe transformational — time for the voice of the local business community.
That’s how one observer characterized what 2013 was like for the High Point Chamber of Commerce.
It took stellar leadership to right the financial ship of the organization, according to High Point University President Nido Qubein.
The chamber struggled at times last year to make payments on a $2 million loan it has used to fund renovations and improvements to its N. Main Street headquarters.
Qubein, who presented one of the awards at the chamber’s 2014 annual meeting Thursday, said the organization’s leaders wrestled with “fiscal matters that could really be life or death for the chamber.”
Qubein presented Kelly Sain, the 2013 chamber chairman, with the High Point University Extraordinary Leadership Award.
“I’ve never been more encouraged than this past year, watching these leaders work who never gave up,” Qubein said.
In presenting the TransTech Pharma Volunteer of the Year award, Sain said it was impossible to limit the honor to one person, so five recipients were chosen: Mary Beth Brackman, Charles Cain, Jim Hundley, Bill McGuinn and Lisa Shankle.
“There were several people that really made a difference, a team of volunteers who helped transform our chamber and put it on the right path,” Sain said. “I’m really optimistic and bullish about the chamber moving forward. We’re stronger today than we were when I stood here a year ago.”
George Clopton, an executive with Ralph Lauren Corp., was named Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
The company is one of High Point’s largest employers and has been in expansion mode in recent years, adding hundreds of jobs at its locations in High Point.
Clopton was praised for his community service and helping to make Ralph Lauren a major corporate citizen.
“So many other people are deserving of this. We do it because it’s a labor of love. What we do is from our hearts,” Clopton said. “It’s the support you get from your community, family and friends when you’re doing these things together. I’m so humbled and appreciative of the work we’ve done together.”
The chamber’s 2014 chairman, Tim Ilderton, said the organization is stepping up its efforts to support local businesses by reinstating a committee to help companies navigate government issues. Another committee will focus on putting on seminars to educate business leaders about a variety of topics, Ilderton said.
He added that the upcoming move by the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau into the chamber’s facility will help accelerate the trend toward uniting all of the city’s business advocacy groups into a new alliance.
“We picked up 40 new members in the last few months,” Ilderton said. “We are going in the right direction, I guarantee.”
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