The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) held their annual dinner last week on Sept. 20 to initiate new officers and to hand out the 2017 Business & Leadership Awards.
This year’s theme was the Kentucky Derby – an important first race in the Triple Crown Horse Racing Stakes every spring. Vancouver’s Hilton Hotel played host this year.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour, offering mint juleps; a photo booth with Churchill Downs (Kentucky) as the background; and live horses directly outside the entrance and available for photos. Kentucky Derby-style hats were for sale from CrowningLori Hats outside the ballroom, and hats of every color and size adorned the ladies in the crowd. There were also yard games and a no-host bar, while the Vancouver String Quartet played in the background.
Inside the ballroom was a huge round dessert table decorated with an ice carving centerpiece of a horse’s head and covered with desserts of every variety for the Dessert Derby. Derby donors were Foode Café & Catering, The Quarry Senior Living, Chuck’s Produce, Rose and Thorn, Killa Bites, Nana’s Tiny Cakes, Bleu Door Bakery and New Season’s Market.
For the dinner, two different entrees were available. The meat option was a rosemary barbecued pork loin with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and asparagus; the vegetarian/gluten-free plate offered up a superb goat cheese crepe filled with cheese, spinach, garlic, grilled green pepper and artichoke, and underlain with asparagus spears and pureed squash. A horseshoe-shaped (and sized) chocolate candy graced each place setting. Dessert was served after the installation of officers.
The official program began with the chairman ceremony and the installation of 2017-2018 officers. The Executive Board for the year will be Chair Eric Sawyer of BBSI Preferred Payroll; Chair-Elect Amy O’Hara of When the Shoe Fits; Vice Chair Kevin Getch of Webfor; Secretary/Treasurer Lisa Goecke of Perkins & Co.; and Past Chair Ben Hoskins of You Move Me/1-800 Got Junk.
After the officers’ initiation, a Dessert Derby determined each table’s dessert for the evening. Each diner completed a bid sheet to place a bid for the desserts, with bids tallied for each table; the highest bidding tables would have the first choice of one of the desserts – a cake, pie, cookie plate or other delectable – for their entire table. From among the diners at each table, a “jockey” was chosen. That person would retrieve the dessert for their table during the Derby. To start the Dessert Derby, the jockeys from the five top bidding tables assembled at the front of the room and ran a one-round race around the periphery of the ballroom, with the winner having first choice from the desserts for their table. Then the remaining jockeys were called, one by one, to snag their table’s dessert for the evening.
The Southwest Washington Business and Leadership Awards for 2017 were announced at the end. For Statesman of the Year (in honor of Bill Fromhold), the award went to Rep. Brandon Vick of the 18th Legislative District.
The 2017 Start-up to Watch (defined as the first five years in business) was TriStar Family Chiropractic. During her acceptance speech, chiropractor and owner Dr. Gloria Arroyo-Grubbs spoke about the role of the GVCC in her success, remarking, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and chamberize.”
The Small Business of the Year was Chappelle’s Towing, LLC; the Large Business of the Year, The Columbian Newspaper.
The Community Champion Award (in honor of Donna Cantonwine) went to Mark Matthias & Ali Novinger. They have supported numerous nonprofits, including Share, YWCA Clark County, Vancouver School District Foundation, Free Clinic, Bridge the Gap, YWCA Clark County and the NW Association for Blind Athletes. They also organized Green Eggs & Ham, giving breakfast to about 8,000 students from 48 elementary schools.
This year, the chamber presented their first John S. McKibbin Leadership Legacy Award for Excellence in Leadership, which is a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the recipient was Lee Rafferty. Rafferty served as the Vancouver Downtown Association’s (VDA) executive director, and was on their board of directors for six years. At the same time, she also ran her own small business, Spanky’s. The VDA became the highest performing downtown association in the state, raising nearly $2 million for projects in the downtown area.
“When people can find something that they believe in and can see that their efforts are making a difference, that’s when the magic happens,” she said.