A year ago, the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce didn’t have a permanent CEO or partnership with other local chambers.
So much has changed since then, and members of the pro-business organization gathered Thursday to celebrate those successes and a bright future during the sixth annual State of the Chamber Luncheon at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Ken Oplinger, who was hired on last June, served as emcee for the event, which recognized local dignitaries and honored businesses of all sizes.
Scott Hadley, the chamber's 2013 board chairman, gave a rundown of last year’s accomplishments, including the Oplinger hire, office move, new partnerships with the Carpinteria Valley and Goleta Valley chambers of commerce, and creation of the Coffee & Connection Breakfast.
The chamber also hired a new sales director who snagged 212 new members.
“What a year. What a crowd,” Hadley said, looking out at hundreds of attendees. “We wanted to be more engaged.”
Joanne Funari, board chairwoman for 2014, thanked Hadley for his leadership and handed him a plaque of appreciation.
“I am really excited because I get to talk about what the chamber is going to be doing in the future,” she said. “Business is what feeds our economy. These companies and others in our community were indeed built to last. When looking to the chamber’s future … we need only to look to these companies to create a roadmap to success.”
The chamber switched up awards a bit this year, altering its selection process and bringing back business of the year awards.
Santa Barbara Axxess was honored as Small Business of the Year, and Deckers took home Large Business of the Year.
Businesswoman of the Year went to Penny Jenkins, retired CEO of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and the male counterpart award was given to Morrie Jurkowitz, a former Santa Barbara City College trustee.