That kind of strength is still a vital part of Cleveland as was evidenced last week at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's 88th annual membership meeting.
Congratulations go to Margaret Schenck, executive vice president of United Knitting L.P. She is the recipient of the 34th M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award, the Chamber's top annual honor. She has truly exhibited leadership through not only her role at United Knitting, but her volunteer spirit for the Chamber, United Way and Junior Achievement, to name only a few. I recall 2001 and her leadership role when the major changes took place for United Knitting. She is a deserving recipient.
Robert "Bob" G. Card Jr., a previous M.C. Headrick Award winner, received this year's Robert W. Varnell Jr. Leadership Award in recognition of his many community contributions. Bob comes from a long line of “givers” to this community, carrying on the tradition of his father and mother who had quite an impact on our city’s growth through the years.
All award recipients, and all those who were nominated, underscore our community's tradition of economic strength and civic pride. So does the legacy left by the men for whom these awards are named.
The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce itself is a reflection of our strong workforce, our community's work ethic and the dedication of our businesses and industries.
One of the local history books recalls how the Chamber was founded in 1925 to promote the "economic, industrial, professional, commercial, cultural, educational, agricultural and civic welfare" of Cleveland and Bradley County.
Every progressive community has a chamber, but there is no doubt ours stands high above any chamber, anywhere.
One of the first Chamber projects locally was to promote the building of a new hotel. The Cherokee Hotel opened in 1928 and remains a landmark in our historic downtown district
The Chamber has been thinking big ever since. Its staff was involved in recent years in attracting more industrial and commercial jobs here as well as promoting tourism and social events. Since 2000, the Chamber's Allied Arts Council, for just one example, has raised more than $285,000 from its annual Chair-ries Jubilee auctions to bring the arts to our schools.
The past year was a record-breaking recruitment year for Chamber membership, thanks to chairman Steve Robinson. He led the Chamber and set the pace for incoming chairperson Debbie Melton, who has broadened her goals to assure “retention of membership” is a focus in the coming year.
With increased membership, a new venue was required and the Omega Center International, built in 2013 by Perry Stone and the Voice of Evangelism, was a perfect site for Chamber growth.
The future looks bright for our “City With Spirit.” Chamber award winners helped make it happen and new members will carry the torch for the future. Each and every citizen benefits in one way or another by the Chamber’s efforts in our community.
The Year of Retention has begun ... with Spirit!