News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 29, 2013

Chamber of Commerce 100th Anniversary: Century celebration

Yearly awards presented at Hulman Center gala

TERRE HAUTE — The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce celebrated “A Century of Business” on Wednesday night.

The occasion was the chamber’s 100th annual meeting, which saw a gathering at Hulman Center of around 800 community business leaders, a keynote speech from American entrepreneur Bill Rancic and the presentation of four prestigious business awards.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout and with the event itself,” said Chamber President/CEO Ken Brengle.

Terre Haute attorney and Federal Magistrate Craig McKee, master of ceremonies, said the evening was not only about celebrating business but also for nostalgia — a look back on the chamber’s 100 years.

“It’s just a great thrill to be here for our 100 years [celebration], ” said B.J. Riley, chamber board chair and Tribune-Star publisher.

“The chamber has been an important part of the community and being board chair this year has been a privilege for me. It’s a great community, it’s a great night, and we’ve got a lot of participation,” Riley added.

Highlights of the evening were presentation of four awards: ATHENA Leadership Award, Vision A Level Above Award, Young Leader of the Year Award and Business A Level Above Award. The event also included a silent auction, a live auction and dinner.

Sara Arnett, dean of academic affairs at Harrison College, was this year’s recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award. This award “recognizes the importance of developing women in leadership roles,” said Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College President Dottie King, one of the presenters of the award.

“This year’s recipient is described as the kind of person that makes you want to work hard, not only to achieve your goals but to help others achieve theirs. Professionally, she was thought of as motivated and committed,” said David Fuson, co-presenter of the award.

And as they called her name, Arnett was taken by surprise.

“Thank you to the chamber and the sponsors for this award,” Arnett said. “I am very humbled by this award. I feel that leadership is a critical issue in our country especially among young women and young mothers. ... We also must realize that we touch everybody’s lives. … We should go away from this meeting and think how we can help someone else in our lives.”

“I will cherish this for the rest of my life,” Arnett concluded.

Another award recipient, Eleanor Caldwell, who received the Young Leader of the Year Award, thanked her family and her employer, Sackrider & Co., for their support.

She also had great things to say about Terre Haute.

“This is a great place to be. It’s a great place to raise a family. … I want to make it a better place,” she said.

Arts Spaces and Arts Illiana jointly received the Vision A Level Above Award, and Thompson Thrift was recognized as this year’s Business A Level Above recipient. (See detailed list of award winners elsewhere on this page.)

The keynote speaker, Bill Rancic, American entrepreneur and Donald Trump’s original “Apprentice” winner, spoke about innovation and told the crowd stories about his beginnings as an entrepreneur.

Rancic said he realized at an early age that he possessed an important trait: “having the ability to recognize opportunity and ... seizing that opportunity.”

Rancic said he had visited Terre Haute before, but this was his first time on business.

“It’s certainly an honor to be the speaker of the 100th anniversary. Terre Haute’s a strong community. It’s obviously had a lot of ups and downs over the last hundred years. It’s a testament to the people of Terre Haute that they’ve been able to be agile and adapt,” Rancic told the Tribune-Star.

“I talked to some of the business owners here and they’re very optimistic about the future,” Rancic added.

The Chamber is certainly looking ahead to the future.

“Super excited about having Bill Rancic as our speaker as an entrepreneur that can talk about how to go to that next level, how to strive for excellence,” Brengle told the Tribune-Star.

“We’re looking forward to our second hundred years,” Brengle added.

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