News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 29, 2013

Chamber of Commerce 100th Anniversary: Century celebration

Yearly awards presented at Hulman Center gala

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

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.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or



Sponsored by SMWC and Fuson Automotive

• The ATHENA Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in his or her business or profession, provided valuable services by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assisted women in realizing their full potential.

ATHENA is an international program that has honored more than 6,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The awards were first presented in the early 1990s.

The ATHENA Leadership Award for 2013 goes to Sara Arnett, dean of academic affairs at Harrison College.

Arnett was specifically recognized for her commitment to helping female students work hard to achieve their goals. She is known for always taking time out of her busy day or staying late in the evening to help struggling students, especially single mothers. She is involved with several community organizations, including Junior Achievement, Rotary and United Way of the Wabash Valley.

Past award recipients: Sister Barbara Doherty, Marilyn Pendergast, Beth Tevlin, Sydney Bell, Jeanette Winchester, Becky Buse, Marla Flowers, Claudia Tanoos, Patrece Dayton, Sara Smith, Carol Roesch and Dottie King.



Sponsored by Indiana State University

• This award was first presented in 2006 and recognizes an individual, group of individuals, organization or business, for either long-term, sustained efforts resulting in tangible achievements or for forward-looking initiatives that promise significant impact in the future, setting Terre Haute A Level Above.

This award is designed to honor an organization or an individual who has made a significant impact to the Terre Haute community in one or more of the following areas: arts, communications, economic development, education, natural environment and community appearance, and resource and funding.

Dual recipients of the 2013 Vision A Level Above Award are two local organizations, Arts Illiana and Art Spaces.

They are being jointly honored for their impact on the unification of the arts in Terre Haute, specifically 2013 Year of the River.

To date, more than 50 groups and organizations are participating in this communitywide initiative and providing arts, cultural, environmental and educational events.

Past award recipients: Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, Greg Gibson, Tim Dora, the Terre Haute Children’s Museum Board of Directors, Sisters of Providence, First Financial Bank, Wabash Valley Community Foundation and Keith Ruble.



Sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College and the Tribune-Star Publishing Co.

Scholarship sponsored by SMWC

• The first Young Leader of the Year Award was given in 2011. The award is presented to an individual with a demonstrated commitment to Terre Haute through civic and business involvement. The recipient will possess values consistent with those of Terre Haute Young Leaders, including an unwavering responsibility to the community through involvement with local organizations that elevate the overall quality of life in Terre Haute and the city’s ability to attract and retain young talent.

The 2013 Young Leader of the Year Award goes to Eleanor “Ellie” Caldwell.

Caldwell, a dedicated member of the Terre Haute Young Leaders organization, volunteers her time to mentor young colleagues and is committed to making Terre Haute a better place to raise a family. A CPA with Sackrider & Co., she is committed to mentoring younger colleagues and works to help them grow in their profession.

Past award recipients: Stephanie Miller and Whitney Gurman-Roberts.


Sponsored by Vectren

• Presented for the first time in 2005, the “Business A Level Above” Award honors an outstanding business of the year in the Wabash Valley, an organization committed to being a leader in the community as the pinnacle of business growth and development. Recipients of this prestigious award are businesses clearly demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit, taking risks and making investments in terms of time and money to grow business and jobs in the community.

The 2013 Business A Level Above winner, Thompson Thrift, is being recognized for its achievements in sustainable planning.

The local company was founded in 1986 by John Thompson and Paul Thrift, who have embraced their roles as “servant leaders” and have completed a variety of community projects, including the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, Hilton Garden Inn and Honey Creek Commons.

Past award recipients: Sony DADC, Pfizer Inc., Clabber Girl Corp., Duke Energy, Union Hospital, GE Aviation, ADVICS Manufacturing and ThyssenKrupp Presta.