The Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated their 106th annual gathering of members on Oct.12 at Les & Jim’s Banquet Hall. The theme this year was “I Belong…A Circle of Influence.” More than 180 investors attended including the Chamber’s Board of Directors, Ambassador’s and the Chamber Foundation’s Board of Directors. As part of the annual celebration, the membership organization announced the 2017 Businesses of the Year.
Debbe Kinsey, Merrill Chamber CEO, told the gathering that the Chamber is their Circle of Influence. “A Circle of Influence brings old and new, large and small businesses together to mentor, to share, to educate and to support each other. Successful businesses of all shapes and sizes make a healthy community.”
Kinsey went on to highlight many of the chamber’s successes in 2017 that includes a regional partnership with Centergy and other chambers in that region. Also, the programs that they do with the Merrill Area Public Schools, including the newest program, Inspire, that links businesses with schools and workforce development agencies throughout Wisconsin.
The Businesses of the Year awards were announced and presented by Kinsey and 2017-18 Board Chairman Randy Wixson, owner of Lighthouse Storage. The 2017 awards were presented to Bell Tower Residence as Large Business; Systems Technologies as Mid-Sized Business; Lincoln Community Bank as Small Business; and One-Way Collision Center as Hometown Business. The Volunteer Organization of the Year was presented to The Haunted Sawmill and Ambassador of the Year was presented to Jennifer Porath of Wipfli.
The Merrill Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is made up of a cross section of member business representation and includes: Chairman Randy Wixson; Vice Chair Jeff Schneider of Sierra Pacific Windows; 2nd Vice Chair Zach Kubichek of Sawmill Brewing Company; Financial Officer Noel Bushor of Courtside Furniture; Dawn Bishop of Council Grounds, Sara Gossfeld-Benzing of NorthCentral Technical College; Barb Haffmann of Dave’s County Market; Marty Heyne of Church Mutual, Dennis Krueger of Lincoln Wood Products; Nancy Kwiesielewicz of Ascension Good Samaritan; Kent Reinhardt of Wisconsin Public Service; Brian Richards of Richard Mamer; Kurt Rust of Lincoln Community Bank; Tim Schreiber of Merrill Foto News/Courier; Tonia Speener of Clark-Dietz; and Ex-officio Mayor Bill Bialecki.
The Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce was established in 1911 as one of the first in the State of Wisconsin and the Merrill Chamber of Commerce Foundation was established in 2005 as a 501(c)3 organization.