You are here:Home/Events/Chamber celebrates community during 98th Annual Meeting
The Chamber celebrated 98 years in Greater Gainesville with a banquet of 300 attendees, speeches, drinks, desserts and a central theme of Place embodying what makes our region unique.
The Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce hosted its 98th Annual Meeting on March 2 at the UF Hilton before 300 people representing chamber member organizations across Gainesville. Emerson served as presenting sponsor, reinforcing the central theme of “Place,” especially prevalent during the pre- and post-event cocktail hours.
In addition to the passing of the gavel from Board Chair Gil Levy of VyStar Credit Union to Clay Martin of Folds & Walker, several citizens were awarded for their efforts in driving community progress.
The Legacy Award, the Greater Gainesville Chamber’s highest honor, was awarded to Betsy Whitaker—the first female to be President and Chair of the Gainesville Chamber Board of Directors. She marks the eighth person to receive the award since its inception in 2006, and the first woman.
“Becoming a leader in any community is one that requires the assistance of many people,” Whitaker said via video. “Those of you know me, know the incredible staff, presidents and directors that supported me.”
The Gainesville Rotary Club’s Ethics in Business award was presented to Mike Warren of AMJ, Inc, who helped broker the deal to build the Hyatt Place hotel in Downtown Gainesville.
The President’s Award, chosen by Chamber President and CEO Eric Godet, was awarded to Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell.
“Ken made sure to include Chamber board leadership as well as the leadership of key industries and organizations during every conversation,” Godet said of Cornell’s leadership during COVID. “He made sure to be as inclusive as possible while structuring the strategic plan.”
The Chair’s Award, presented by Levy, was awarded to Paul Myers, MSc and Dr. Michael Lauzardo for their work in communicating with the public in a respectable and honest manner to help keep people informed regarding COVID precautions.
The 2021 Diplomat of the Year award, presented by past winner Soly Schrack from awards sponsor Comfort Temp, was presented to Steve Jeppson of the Florida Credit Union. Jeppson has served as a Chamber diplomat for 21 years.
As the award ceremony came to an end, Outgoing Chair Levy returned to the podium to share his final remarks within his position. Levy elaborated on the accomplishments that had occurred during his time as Chair and expressed his enthusiasm for the future of the Chamber.
The Passing of the Gavel ceremony followed Levy’s speech as he graciously passed his title, role and responsibilities to Incoming Chair Clay Martin. Martin shared his excitement for the upcoming year and thanked the members of the Chamber for their continuous support and effort.
“We are committed to making every day of 2022 a day of excitement, of anticipation, and of expectation,” Martin said. “…to making every day a day that causes you to get on your tippy-toes with anticipation and excitement and look out over the horizon to see what is next!”
After welcoming all sponsors and guests to the event, CEO Godet shared remarks highlighting the work that occurs behind the scenes at the chamber, elaborated on the theme of the night—Place—and shared the trials and triumphs that the Greater Gainesville chamber faced over the past year.
The Chamber’s next signature event will be the 2022 ALL IN Conference, also held at the Hilton Conference Center on July 20.