Citizen of the Year

Citizen of the Year

Businesses of the Year also lauded during banquet

By MORGAN ROE The Reporter

he Albertville Chamber of Commerce hosted their 69th Annual Business Awards Banquet and Membership Meeting on Thursday, March 7. This event was to recognize the 2023 Small Business of the Year nominees and announce the winners. All nominations were submitted by the community December 1 through January 31. A committee made up of former winners, board members and ambassadors then selected each winner.

The chamber has grown exponentially in the last five years, growing from 310 members to 530 members, retention rates up to 95% and increasing from 30 to 70 sponsors.

“This kind of investment is the kind that helps us grow into the organization we are today,” said Chamber President Stan Witherow.

With all of the added support, the chamber was able to renovate their office and add a new team member Nate Chacon, Membership Coordinator/ Multicultural Business.

“Nate’s main focus is on membership engagement, education, promotion and recruiting. Nate will help us bridge the gap on the language barrier that we’ve had. We know that there is a portion of our population and community that we have been unable to reach and he will help us do that,” Witherow said.

The Chamber has also added three new women’s business events, such as the Women in Business Breakfast in April. They have also added an educational benefit to their membership, such as a tuition discount with Jacksonville State University. The chamber has also just partnered with Athens State University and the discount will be announced within the next few weeks.

Each year, the Albertville Chamber of Commerce assigns a one-word theme to the banquet and this year’s theme was “ignite.” The theme has to have meaning and purpose.

“I want each and every one of you to answer this question. What is it that ignites the fire within you each and every day to do what you do in your business or your industry? Everyone has something inside of them. A spark or fire that drives you. It’s that fire within that we’re celebrating tonight,” Witherow said.

The Chamber took time to recognize an ambassador who went above and beyond for 2023.

“This young man was a friend before he was a member, and before he was an ambassador, he was very vocal with me about his past experiences with other chambers of commerce and he wasn’t sold on the whole chamber. He’s a very driven individual, he entered into a new career as an Alfa insurance agent and found himself needing to start from scratch and build new clientele and make connections,” Witherow said.

After calling Witherow at the Chamber, the young man was able to network. In fall of 2022, he became an ambassador.

“When I say he joined the team. If you are a Brooks, you know what that means and you are in it to win it. I know Matt’s in the room somewhere. Even though it’s not a competition, he went above and beyond what was expected…He’s truly an ambassador to the chamber and is now going to serve on the board of directors,” Witherow said.

Jaylon Brooks won the 2023 Ambassador of the Year. Matt Brooks is his father.

“I stand before you tonight to pay tribute to an exceptional leader, one whose dedication and vision has left an indelible mark on the community as the outgoing chair of the chamber of commerce and board of directors. Susan Armstrong has exemplified what it means to lead with passion, creativity and unwavering commitment,” says Jennifer Amos, chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors.

Armstrong was behind the successful launch of the Made on the Mountain Festival, which drew over 5,000 people in its inaugural run. June 1st will be the second Made on the Mountain Fest. Under her guidance, Albertville Chamber organized the largest Christmas parade in recent decades. The Albertville Chamber recognized Armstrong for her outstanding leadership and unwavering dedication.

“Susan, you have truly made a difference and Albertville is a better place for your service and we thank you,” Amos said.

After recognizing these two crucial members, the chamber went on to announce the 2023 Emerging Business of the Year nominees. Nominees included Blossom Boutique, Clover Tween Boutique, Power Quip and The Grove Grotto & Spa. The winner of the 2023 Emerging Business of the Year award went to Clover Tween Boutique.

The next award was the Small Business of the Year 1-10 Employees. Nominees were Apple Signs Company, Yappy Hour Pet Resort Groom & Board and CF Media. CF Media was announced the 2023 Small Business of the Year 1-10 Employees.

Small Business of the Year 11-50 Employees came next, nominees being Wendy’s of Albertville, Hampton Inn Albertville, and the Pediatric Therapy Center. The 2023 Small Business of the Year 11-50 Employees award went to Wendy’s.

The Small Business of the Year 51-100 Employees nominees were Sand Mountain Toyota and Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. Sand Mountain Toyota won the 2023 Small Business of the Year 51-100 Employees.

The Industry of the Year came next with nominees, Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative and Marshall Medical Centers. The 2023 Industry of the year was Marshall Medical centers.

The final award given out was the annual Citizen of the year. Quinton Williams had the honor of announcing Dr. Wayne Peters as the 2023 Citizen of the Year.

Peters graduated with high honors from Auburn University, then graduated from medical school at UAB before completing a 3-year family practice residency from the College of Community Health Sciences in Tuscaloosa.

He is one of the founders of Sand Mountain Family Practice Center and has previously been President of the Marshall County Medical Society and Chief of Staff at Marshall Medical Center. Peters is a Servant Care Leader at The Fellowship where he teaches an adult Sunday school class. He is married to Judy Peters and has three children and three grandchildren.

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