Biz takes the spotlight
Jan 28, 2013 | 442 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Business leaders throughout our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown consider Tuesday night’s annual extravaganza their Super Bowl of entrepreneurship; a key difference is the players won’t be donning helmets and their prize is not a sparkling ring lined in dazzling jewels.

Their reward is membership into the mainstream of local enterprise and a proud voice in the happenings of a growing, and prospering, community.

We speak of the much-anticipated 87th Annual Meeting of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, an always popular event that traditionally fills the Life Care Centers of America Professional Development Center with hundreds of the area’s top business, government, education, denominational and nonprofit leaders.

The opportunity for professional networking goes without saying, but attendees also will be the first to learn of the recipients of the Chamber’s top two annual honors — the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award and the Robert W. Varnell Jr. Leadership Award.

Both presentations are bestowed upon a worthy entrepreneur who embodies the spirit, the civic-mindedness, the operational success and the community goodwill of two business giants whose names are synonymous with all that is good about Cleveland and Bradley County.

Specifically, the Headrick Award commemorates the ideals of the late M.C. Headrick and recognizes a businessperson who exemplifies the best of the free enterprise system. Last year’s recipient is a prime example of what it takes to become a Headrick Award recipient. He is Robert Wright, chairman of the board for Wright Brothers.

In a similar spirit of business impact, the Varnell Award, named in honor of the late Robert W. Varnell Jr., honors selfless leadership in professional, religious and civic endeavors. Like Wright, last year’s Varnell Award honoree is indicative of the caliber of humanitarian eligible for this level of recognition. We speak of the widely respected Bill Creech, a retired agent with Allstate Insurance and former member of the Bradley County Commission.

Set to get under way at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday’s festivities won’t be all about awards. Although a variety of special recognitions will flank the Headrick and Varnell honors, an array of business updates will be provided.

One will be given by Stephen Wright, outgoing Chamber chairman, who will provide highlights from the 2012 program year. It is Wright himself who explains one of the functions of the Chamber’s annual gathering.

“The Chamber of Commerce annually outlines goals and determines action steps to guide its day-to-day operations which reflect a commitment to the economic and community development of Bradley County,” the longtime Chamber leader said in a recent announcement. “The Annual Meeting gives us an opportunity to present the outcomes of those efforts and to recognize the leadership team that ensures progress in each program area.”

He pointed to the significant role of the business community in providing financial support and commitment to the Chamber which in turn makes available new programs and opportunities to members and to all of Cleveland and Bradley County.

Just as exciting Tuesday evening will be the visionary remarks of incoming Chamber Chairman Steve Robinson, president of Cleveland Plywood Co. Robinson will introduce the Chamber’s 2013 focus — the “Year of the Member.”

This year’s Annual Meeting will be a time of farewell to the old and a moment of cherished greeting to the new.

We look forward to the Chamber’s night in the spotlight.

It is both hard-earned and well-deserved.

We trust an inspiring time will be had by all.