Macon chamber recognizes achievements, presents awards at annual meeting

One of the highlights for the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce this year was becoming a certified chamber under the state chamber’s certification program.

The designation sets the “standards of excellence,” chamber Chairman Jason Delves said during the chamber’s 154th annual meeting Thursday at Middle Georgia State College.

The achievements of the chamber and the Macon Economic Development Commission were recognized during the meeting attended by about 250 people.

During the past year, the chamber created the Small & Minority Business Task Force, “and we implemented several of their recommendations,” Delves said. Also, the chamber added 138 new members this year, raising its membership to more than 1,000.

Walt Miller, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, said some of the key initiatives of the commission this past year include:

Being part of a regional group that received a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Assistance that will develop 100 job profiles for the region, which can be used in recruiting and retention programs.

Participating in the launch of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport Master Plan.

Establishing the Middle Georgia Logistics Council to promote the region as a premier destination for distribution in the Southeast.

“This year, MEDC has led the team that will bring over 500 new jobs and over $420 million in new investment to the community,” including Mr. Chips, which is a subsidiary of Bayview Foods, and Kumho Tire, Miller said.


Thursday’s event was also an opportunity to hand out awards to people who made a mark on the community.

The top award of the night, the Citizen of the Year Award, was presented to Mike Ford, former president/CEO of NewTown Macon, by last year’s recipient Kirby Godsey.

Ford has been “relentless” ... and someone who “winds up in the middle of powerful conversations,” Godsey said. Ford’s handprint “will be found on the progress of downtown over the past 20 years. (He) has made and continues to make Macon a better place.”

The Robert F. Hatcher Award went to Steve Smith, interim superintendent of the Bibb County school system. Smith was selected for the award as someone “who has gone above and beyond” the call of duty to help the community, said state Rep. Nikki Randall, who won the award last year.

“We all know this gentleman took one for the team ... when he could have had sand between his toes,” Randall said.

Delves presented the 2014 Chairman’s Award to Leonard Bevill, president and CEO of Macon Occupational Medicine. He has served as vice chairman of membership and chairman of the chamber’s total resource campaign this past year.

The late Randy Randall was honored for his dedication in supporting regionalism. Randall was chairman of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce when he died suddenly in May.

The award will be sent to his son, Walter Randall, who lives in Florida and was unable to attend the meeting.

The Ambassador of the Year Award was presented to D. Elaine Smith, “who has been a dedicated ambassador for the past 13 years,” Bevill said. Smith is the human resource director for the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Champion Award, given each year by the chairman of the Economic Development Commission, was presented to Central Georgia Technical College for providing “critical information on the region’s workforce skills and training programs,” Miller said.