This is an open letter of thanks to the hundreds people who attended and supported the ART of Business gala, the Chamber’s 75th Anniversary Celebration, on Oct. 24.
What a celebration it was!
An event such as this gala can only realize the fabulous success we had, when you have people like this Chamber, people who understand and care about working together for a cause. This cause benefits many individuals, as well as the entire community.
These people understand the importance of networking; getting to know the people they deal with day in and day out in different surroundings. There was talking, hugging, laughing, introduction of spouses, reminiscing, meeting new friends, dancing, and enjoying one another for an entire evening.
This Chamber is so fortunate to have a great mix of huge corporations and small businesses, giving us that perfect balance. Each member of the Chamber Board and the It Starts Here Foundation bring their expertise to the table … expertise that money could not buy. They bring the generosity of their time, their dedication, their support and their very valuable direction to this Chamber. These business leaders work every day to build this Chamber to what it has become — a highly recognized and respected organization serving the communities of Granite City, Madison, Venice, Pontoon Beach and Mitchell.
If one of our businesses is experiencing a problem, we come together, working like a well-oiled machine to resolve the problem that has been presented … and then we move on.
The theme of the gala was “We Make It Here and We Move It There.” A video was made to recognize the 21 members of the Chamber that were either in the manufacturing industry or the transportation system. James “Jim” Schultz, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, presented the recognition award to each of the 21 recipients as they walked in on the red carpet. Also in the lobby during the cocktail hour, Bradley Sparks, director of the Industrial Technology Center at the Sam Wolf Granite City campus of Southwestern Illinois College, truly stimulated the conversation with an interactive Robotic Welder, a 3D printer and a vertical mill that everyone played with.
The evening program was opened with the song “For the Good,” sung by Melanie Keeney and Sarah Pistorius, with a PowerPoint of pictures that recognized the people who have built the Chamber and this community.
This lavish evening also benefits the only Leadership Program in Madison County.
After dinner, the Chamber presented a conversation with Bob Roseman, retired from Ehrhardt Tool and Machine, in discussing what a business is looking for in their employees.
The audience then got to hear the perspective of the employee presented by Ray Richmond, Captain of SCF Lewis and Clark; and Adam Heil, Marketing Manager of Coyle Supply. The narrator of the conversation was David Stoecklin, Director of Madison County Employment and Training and the Chairman of the Chamber Board. He asked the question, “How can we talk about the high unemployment rate in this country and yet read day in and day out that there are 600,000 skilled manufacturing jobs in this country that are not filled?
“It is perception on the part of our society. The public needs to be aware that manufacturing can provide a great living wage for a family.”
The program was closed with “I Was Here,” sung by Melanie Keeney and Donald and Lynda Stratton. A PowerPoint presentation spotlighted people who are making a difference in this Chamber and in our area.
Then, the partying started with music by Galaxy RED, and the dancing was led off by professional dancers Dr. Saulius Kalvaitis, Diana Roberts, Michael Flanagan and Shevon Harris. This party, as always, went into the late hours with great music and an “After Glow Party,” including McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Ted Drewes frozen custard, popcorn, Oreo cookies and milk.
A drawing for a four-day getaway to Destin, Fla., was won by Connie Frick.
This magnificent evening was a tremendous success simply because of the involvement of our businesses leaders; those people whose dedication to this area is so vital to the economic well-being of our schools, our parks and to the cities where they are located. They bring jobs and a tax base any community would love to have and yet this is the only venue and the only time our community recognizes and thanks them for being a member of our community.
Those who served on the Gala committees were:
Food, location and music — The It Starts Here Foundation, Paul Wellhausen, Chris Barnes, Joe Durako, Tom Wobbe.
Executive Board, Ed Cunningham, David Stoecklin, Scott Frick, Don Vichitvongsa, Pat Notestine.
Awards/recognitions — Chair, Paul Wellhausen, Ben McCall, John Sakach, Dennis Shup, Tom Wobbe.
“After Glow Party” — Chair, Marty and Deb McCabe, Bob Kmetz.
Decade banner — Chair, Tina Hubert, Mary Meyer.
Decoration of lobby and ballroom — Chair, Scott Frick, Randall Irwin, Charles and Kate Juneau, Nancy LeVault, Bradley Sparks.
Entertainment — Chair, Chris Barnes, Melanie Asadorian-Keeney, John Manooigan, Sarah Pistorius, Donald Stratton.
PowerPoint presentations — Chair, Chris Barnes, Sherrie Brimer, Tina Hubert.
Presidential reception — Chair, Jeff Smith, Tina Hubert, Randall Irwin, Nancy LeVault, Bradley Sparks, Charles and Kate Juneau, David and Wanda Stoecklin.
Ticket sales — Chair, Paul Wellhausen, Keith Burton, Dr. Kent Splaingard, Ryan Robertson, Jeff Kohler, Rob Schwartz.
Setup and takedown committee — Chair, Rob Waymire, Jeff Kohler, Charlie and Katie Juneau, David and Wanda Stoecklin.
Video — Chair, Don Vichitvongsa, Brett Kuhlman.
Lobby assistants — Erin Echelmeyer, Juliette Douglas, Candace Force, Tina Hubert, Mary Meyer, Allex Perigan, Lori Shup.