The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce highlighted accomplishments that include enhanced resources for small business members in partnership with higher education and efforts to address state tax policies during its annual meeting and dinner Thursday.
During the event at the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College, the chamber celebrated its 10th anniversary as a regional chamber. The chambers of Fort Mill, Rock Hill and Tega Cay merged in 1999.
Joe Versen was named the chamber's 2009 regional board chair by outgoing chair Wayne Wingate. Annual business awards were presented.
Wingate reviewed the chamber's 2008 accomplishments, highlighting its efforts with the Chamber's Small Business Council, which has enhanced membership for small business members in cooperation with higher education partners. Wingate congratulated the chamber on its efforts to address a state tax policy that shifts the tax burden to businesses and negatively affects public schools, higher education institutions and other local governments.
Wingate addressed many key accomplishments as a regional chamber, including assisting in the approval of public school bonds and playing a major role in the passage of two "Pennies For Progress" referendums.
Wingate closed his speech by reflecting on the year.
"I enjoyed this year," Wingate said. "We've had a great tradition of leadership and will continue to have that through the selection of Joe Versen."
Wingate recognized a former board chair, the late Eddie Black, as a dedicated contributor with "a great vision for the chamber."
Chamber president Rob Youngblood spoke about the struggling economy and recent local business closings, but he said York County will come through it.
"You know what, if we have a recession, there's no place better to be than York County," said Youngblood. "We are going to be the first out of the recession."
"We can make the best of the way things turn out," he said. "That's our goal for 2009."
Business awards handed out
The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized the following members Thursday during the presentation of its annual business awards:
• Ann Skar of Hilton Garden Inn, Chamber Ambassador of the Year
• Marvin Smith of Domtar, Fort Mill Area Council Business Person of the Year
• Baxter Simpson of Apple Tree Contractors, Rock Hill Area Council Business Person of the Year
• Diane Woods of Professional Insurance Consulting, Tega Cay Area Council Business Person of the Year
• Brendan Kuhlkin of McHale's, Small Business Person of the Year
• Gary Williams of Williams and Fudge, Citizenship and Service Award, in memory of Eddie Black
• Merritt Wilkerson of Wilkerson Fuel, Lifetime Business Achievement