Attendees were treated to signature dishes from area restaurants including Central Mesa; Cypress Inn, Dotson’s Burger Spot; Farm Bowl + Juice Co.; Half Shell Oyster House; Heritage House; Jalapeno’s Mexican Grill; Jim N’ Nick’s; Legend’s Bistro; River; The Side By Side; Southern Ale House; and Urban Cookhouse. During the event, members voted on the Best of the Taste of the Town, and the Taste of the Town Champion will be revealed at a later date.
Chris Gunter of Buffalo Rock-Pepsi was named the 2018 Charles H. Land Member of the Year, the Chamber’s highest honor presented to an individual member. Gunter, who serves as the Chamber’s Vice Chair of Membership and Investor Relations, is critical to maintaining key programs that impact the community.
With an emphasis on being a servant leader in his personal and professional life, Gunter has been successful in bringing transformational leadership to the Chamber’s sponsorship campaign, the 4th Quarter Drive. He also has served as a mentor to the Chamber’s professional volunteers, the Ambassadors.
“There’s no better example of volunteer leadership than Chris Gunter,” said Jim Page, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. “He sets the standard for others to follow, and we’re so proud to have someone of his character, passion, and drive representing the Chamber.”
The Chairman’s Leadership Award was presented to The Honorable Jo Bonner, Chief of Staff to Governor Kay Ivey. During his tenure at the University of Alabama System and as Interim Director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, Bonner assisted in creating an Economic Development Strategic Plan for our region that will serve as a blueprint for community leaders moving forward.
The Robert C. Tanner Corporate Service Award, which recognizes the corporate leadership, philanthropic efforts and community service by a member entity in the West Alabama region, was presented to Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa.
The Minority Business Council Trailblazer Award was presented to Dr. Cynthia Warrick of Stillman College.
Stacey DeLoach of Ward Scott Architecture was named the Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year for her exceptional service to and on behalf of the Chamber’s membership. The Ambassadors are the Chamber’s official hosts for all functions.
The Non-Profit of the Year Award was presented to Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education, known as PRIDE, a drug prevention and educational non-profit organization dedicated to reducing substance abuse and the onset of addiction throughout the West Alabama area.
The Chamber also recognized outstanding community leadership with the presentation of four Distinguished Service Awards, which are presented to individuals or organizations for their service and leadership. The 2018 awards were presented to Patricia Powe of The University of Alabama; Dr. David Ford of The University of Alabama; Carol Gilliland, CPA; and Al Spencer, recently retired from the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
The H. Pettus Randall III Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Cory White of WhiteSky Communications. The Rising Star Award was presented to Justin Volman of Evolution Metrix. These awards are given to local business owners whose innovation is making a significant impact on the community and their respective industries.