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Chamber Honors Valdosta's Best at Awards Breakfast
by Chamber News on March 22nd, 2012

The 3rd Annual Chamber Choice Awards, presented by Sunset Farm Foods and Bank of America, was held Thursday at the Rainwater Conference Center. Approximately 350 Chamber members were in attendance as six prestigious awards were given to outstanding businesses and volunteers from the Valdosta-Lowndes County community. 

The six awards presented were Ambassador of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Members’ Choice Award, Small Business of the Year, Manufacturer of the Year and the Big Thinker Award.
The Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to Cindy Hotchkiss with Cornerstone Design & Consulting. This award is presented to a Chamber Ambassador who exemplifies outstanding volunteer support, donates countless hours of service and assists with numerous Chamber initiatives, as well as provides support to businesses on behalf of the Chamber. Hotchkiss volunteered more than 100 hours last year.
Emily Macheski-Preston received the Young Professional of the Year Award. Macheski-Preston is a full-time litigation associate with Coleman Talley, LLP. This award recognizes a young professional who has made a positive impact to his or her business's bottom line. According to George Talley, “Emily has worked hard using her legal education and work ethic to contribute to Coleman Talley, LLP and has helped maintain the firm’s commitment to success to the City of Valdosta.“
The Members’ Choice Award, which recognizes a Chamber member dedicated to quality customer/client services, subsequently raising the expectations of customer service and courtesy in the community, was presented to South Georgia Eye Partners. South Georgia Eye Partners received 20 percent of the 1,080 votes from Chamber members and the community.
Smith Drug Company received the Small Business of the Year Award, which acknowledges a creative and innovative small business with 100 or less employees that demonstrates growth and stability in the business community. Smith Drug Company joined the community in April of 2009 and is committed to customer service. The company works hard to be a leader in customer service and satisfaction, improve the speed and accuracy of orders to their customers and be a good corporate citizen by giving back to the community.
The Manufacturer of the Year award went to ERCO Worldwide, Inc. This honor is awarded based on the manufacturer’s ability to exemplify the elite of manufacturing in economic impact, corporate citizenship and workplace excellence.  ERCO is in the business of developing and supplying chlorine oxide systems to pulp and paper customers and has been in operation since 1996. Not only has ERCO excelled in its production capabilities and capital investments, as a corporate citizen, ERCO takes an active role in the community through annual contributions to local organizations, totaling more than $270,000 since 1996.
Jeff Sikes, owner of First America Drugs, took home the Big Thinker Award. This award was first developed in an effort to encourage economic development through entrepreneurship. It is designed to recognize those entrepreneurs among the Valdosta-Lowndes County community whose ideas, innovations and business savvy go above and beyond the norm. Sikes believes in being fair to people and that true success in life is measured by serving someone else.
Baha Zeidan, Vice Chairman of the Chamber’s Member Services Division, concluded the event by reminding attendees of the Chamber’s special centennial events, which include the Centennial Tree Project and the Centennial Gala.

To view more photos from this event, click here.

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