Chamber President Chris Tomlinson gave opening comments, saying that the U.S. is supposedly coming out of a recession. “Wall Street may be out of it,” he said, “but we’re not. Main Street is still hurting. But what I like to see is that in ‘Busco we’re still surviving. There’s all these small businesses that are still making it and I think you all deserve a pat on the back for thriving through this.”
Tomlinson then spoke about the impending merger of the Columbia City and South Whitley Chambers of Commerce and Churubusco’s decision to remain independent from the county-wide chamber.
From the feedback received from businesses, Tomlinson said the majority are against joining the county-wide chamber.
Sharon Sallot, owner of Sallot Ventures and a facilitator aiding the Columbia City and South Whitley Chambers in their merger, spoke to the business people present about the importance of chambers of commerce for businesses in any community and the purpose of a county-wide chamber.
New businesses go to chambers of commerce to get information, make connections and figure out ways to be successful, Sallot said. The chamber is a support network.
With offices in LaGrange and Steuben Counties and also in Fort Wayne and Columbia City, Sallot works to plan, launch and grow new and existing businesses.
Sallot said the county-wide chamber would not just represent Columbia City and South Whitley, but all parts of Whitley County.
“We want to be inclusive, we want to be unified,” she said. “The goal of a county-wide chamber is to augment what you are doing here already.”
“It doesn’t mean you have to choose between the two, it means you can keep doing exactly what you’ve always done with great success and support the county-wide chamber’s efforts also.”
Following Sallot’s comments, Tomlinson named Parker Insurance and owner Jim Horne as Business of the Year.
Noting Horne’s dedication to the business community and to the community in general, Tomlinson said Horne puts in much time and effort towards volunteering and helping other businesses as well as his own.
Parker Insurance, a full-service insurance agency, is located at the South end of Town and has been in business since 1982. Horne has owned the business since 1999.