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Haywood Chamber awards business leaders

Haywood Chamber awards business leaders

The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce recently presented its annual awards to business leaders who have gone above and beyond to make the community a better place to live, work and play.

“The Annual Meeting and Dinner is the crowning jewel of the Chamber. This event gives the Chamber the opportunity to showcase its accomplishments, recognize exceptional volunteers and businesses, and graduate Leadership Haywood participants,” said outgoing Chamber Chairwoman Nyda Bittman-Neville.

The prestigious Business of the Year award went to Haywood Regional Medical Center for its recent growth and continued community support. Hospital CEO Rod Harkleroad said since he took the reigns over a year ago, the hospital has hired new physicians and more than 50 new nurses to serve the community. He also took a moment to brag about HRMC’s most recent award from The Leapfrog Group, which gave the hospital an ‘A’ rating in patient safety. 

He said the focus would continue to be caring for people to the best of their ability.

“People are excited about taking care of people, and that’s what we’re about,” Harkleroad said as he accepted the award.  

Richard Miller received the Entrepreneur of the Year award for his many contributions over the years to make downtown Waynesville what it is today. Miller, who was quick to give credit to his wife Kay Miller, owns The Classic Wineseller on Church Street as well as the new burger hotspot Church Street Depot. He was also instrumental in getting many other mainstay businesses off the ground on Church Street. 

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George Marshall, retiring president of Haywood Vocational Opportunities, received a Service Recognition award for his more than 30 years of service at HVO and to the community by serving on multiple boards and committees. 

Longtime Chamber members Steve and Mary McNeil received the Volunteer of the Year award for their work in organizing chamber events. 

Stacy Overbay, co-owner of Overbay Insurance, received the Ambassador of the Year award for her leadership in the Chamber’s ambassador program. 

The coveted Business Start-Up Competition award went to Leap Frog Tours, a new downtown Waynesville business offering guided tours and transportation to groups of tourists and locals. Tours include breweries, art galleries and other attractions in Asheville and other western counties. 

Co-owner Ann Smith thanked everyone for their enthusiasm about the business start-up and the early support from the community. Applicants for the Business Start-Up competition must go through a lengthy process to complete a business plan that is judged by a chamber committee. The start-up with the most points overall wins $10,000 from the chamber to help the new business with marketing costs. 

The chamber also recognized outgoing chamber board members Dr. Laura Leatherwood, who will soon be leaving her post at Haywood Community College to serve as the new president of Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, and Greg Boothroyd, advertising director for The Smoky Mountain News, for their service. 

New chamber board members will include Smoky Mountain News Publisher Scott McLeod, Cannon Law attorney Martha Bradley and Fred Waring with Waynesville Automotive.

Bittman-Neville with TNB Consulting Group, who has served as chairwoman of the chamber board for two years, handed the job over to Ken Flynt, Western Carolina University’s associate dean of outreach and engagement.

“For the past two years of my being the chamber board chair, we have focused on four areas; leadership, advocacy, development, and innovation. There has been much achieved in each of these areas and we look forward to continuing to advance our efforts,” she said. “We have had challenges which provide opportunities and we have taken advantage of them when presented. The executive team, chamber president and staff have done an effective job in advancing our activities, events and membership benefits.”

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