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Area chambers promote region

It was fitting that members of the Jefferson County and Follansbee chambers of commerce gathered earlier this week for their respective annual dinners.

Both events were held Wednesday, which was National Chamber of Commerce Day. Celebrated each year on the third Wednesday in October, it’s a day that offers a reminder that local chambers create stronger communities.

The evenings offered a chance to enjoy camaraderie, recognize individuals and businesses that are making a real difference in the area and a chance to hear speakers who offered glimpses into the future.

At St. Florian Event Center in Wintersville, the Jefferson County Chamber celebrated 111 years of service to the community by presenting its lifetime achievement award to Lou DiGregory of DiGregory’s Greenhouse and Garden Center, a family-owned business that has served the region for 82 years, and is slated to close at the end of the year.

Also claiming honors were Valley Wine Cellar and the Ohio Valley Health Center, which shared the business or organization of the year award; Kate Sedgmer, executive director of the United Way of Jefferson County, who won the young professional of the year award; Ohio Valley Natural Relief, which took new or emerging business honors; and Nicole Adamski of the Inn and Suites at Franciscan Square, who was named ambassador of the year.

At the St. Francis Centre, meanwhile, the Follansbee chamber was presenting Best in Business awards to Dave Lyle of Lyle’s Auto, Susan Freshour of Wilkin Flower Shop, George Kondik of P.S. Marketing, Jerry Simpson of Borden Office Equipment and Silvestre Merenda of Sil’s Small Engine Repair; the Performing Arts Award to the Ron Retzer Trio; the Teacher of the Year Award to Ede Ashworth; and the Citizen of the Year Award to Eric Fithyan.

The speakers at both events looked to the future. Mark Patton, vice president of the Columbus Partnership and co-leader of the Columbus Smart Initiative, talked about innovative mobility solutions his group is working on that will transform the way we move across cities and the country. Pat Ford, the former executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, discussed the opportunities for growth in our region with those who attended the Follansbee dinner.

Tricia Maple-Damewood, president of the Jefferson County chamber, and Debbie Puskarich, president of the Follansbee chamber, deserve to be commended for ensuring their organizations are providing services and programs that help local businesses grow and stay relevant in today’s economy.

Congratulations, then, are in order for those who were honored at this week’s dinners, and we salute the staff and board members of the area’s chambers whose efforts keep our region strong.

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