BAY MINETTE, Alabama — The North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce held its 73rd Annual Meeting & Dinner on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the John F. Rhodes Civic Center in Bay Minette. The evening was full of networking, celebration and a keynote address that encouraged everyone to be engaged in their community.
Devyn Keith, Huntsville City Council Member, delivered the keynote address for the evening and spoke about the American Dream, how community members can come together for a common cause regardless of which side of the aisle they stand on, and encouraged those in attendance to be engaged in their community and to work together for the greater good.
The evening was steeped in tradition as the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce continued the program recognizing several businesses, organizations and individuals who serve the community.
2019 New Business of the Year
Charlotte England, treasurer for the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, presented the New Business of the Year award to Just Fitness.
“The 2019 New Business of the Year has been shaking things up since they opened their doors a little over one year ago,” England said.
England’s play on words refers to the work that Pat and Rod Clay have put in to bring Rock Steady Boxing courses to Bay Minette. While medications help Parkinson’s patients manage the disease, Rock Steady Boxing gives them a new lease on life – allowing them to gain strength, stability and balance.
“In a little over one year, Just Fitness has made a lasting impact in our community,” England said. “Pat and Rod Clay saw a need, filled in and continue to do everything they can to contribute to the health, wellness, and quality of life in our community.”
2019 Small Business of the Year
Martha Ryan, Board member for the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, presented the 2019 Small Business of the Year Award to Southern Gyp Boutique.
“It’s been two years since this business opened its doors and began providing fresh, new, unique options for clothing, jewelry and gifts in our community,” Ryan said. “From day one you could find the business donating items for fundraisers, participating in community events and listening to her customers.”
Southern Gyp owner Crystal Peavy shows a commitment to excellent customer service, is committed to promoting fellow small business owners, is progressive and innovating, and is committed to the North Baldwin Community.
“She is the Buc-ee’s of Bay Minette,” said Ryan, “and she offers free gift wrapping!”
2019 NonProfit of the Year
Isabella Eleogo, a senior at Baldwin County High School and a Junior Ambassador for the North Baldwin Chamber, presented Prodisee Pantry with the 2019 Nonprofit of the Year Award. Prodisee Pantry has been serving the North Baldwin Community for 15 years.
“Prodisee Pantry has distributed $5.5 million worth of groceries to the North Baldwin community alone during these 15 years,” Eleogo said, “but they are so much more than a box of groceries to a family in need. They provide access to supportive programs that address a myriad of other issues because they know that if someone needs groceries, there is something else going on that can be addressed.”
2019 Business of the Year
Tripp Ward, secretary for the North Baldwin Chamber of commerce presented the 2019 Business of the year award to Gulf Packaging. Gulf Packaging has been in business for nearly 30 years and has a clear strategy for achieving goals, a strong and supportive management team and a culture of commitment to their employees and the community.
What began as a small manufacturing business in Bay Minette now has a second location in Tallassee, Alabama, and is beginning to break ground on a new facility in Bay Minette as they have outgrown their current space.
“Larry Taylor, Paul Morris and the entire group of people in Gulf Packaging are overall some of the best, simply good, people,” Ward said. “Over the last 30 years Larry Taylor and Gulf Packaging have never overlooked Bay Minette and have always been committed to taking care of home.”
2019 First Responder Award
Bay Minette Police Chief Al Tolbert presented the 2019 First Responder Award on behalf of the North Baldwin Chamber to School Resource Officer Ronald Saladin.
Saladin is the first school resource officer to serve Bay Minette Elementary School and quickly made positive impressions on the faculty, staff and students.
“Officer Saladin purchased a set of police attire for a student that was not able to go outside and play with his peers during recess because student suffers from a skin disorder that does not allow him to get hot and sweaty,” Tolbert said. “The student now goes on foot patrols around campus with officer Saladin during break and recess and no longer has to sit alone inside.”
Tolbert went on to say how Saladin and his wife helped out a custodian at the school who had mentioned that her feet were bothering her because she did not have the right footwear. Saladin and his wife researched and purchased proper shoes for the custodian.
“On a visit to the school the custodian felt the need to tell me about this act of kidness because ‘stories like this, of officer’s compassion toward the people they serve do not get told often enough,’” Tolbert said.
2019 Harry B. Still, Sr. Distinguished Service Award
North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Jason Padgett presented the 2019 Harry B. Still, Sr. Distinguished Service Award to Martha Roley Ryan.
Each year the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award is chosen based on leadership ability and effectiveness, involvement in community organizations, is a significant contributor to the community with their time and talent and represents North Baldwin in the highest standard possible.
“This year’s recipient is all of these things and more,” Padgett said. “She wears many hats in our community and can often be found volunteering her time to causes near and dear to her heart.”
Ryan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the North Baldwin Chamber, is a founding member of the Committee on Public Art, a member of the Tiger for Life Alumni Association and Impact 100 Baldwin County.
“Martha was a cheerleader while at Baldwin County High School,” Padgett said, “and now she is a cheerleader for her hometown; most importantly, she shows up, rolls up her sleeves and gets to work no matter the task at hand.”
Padgett went on to say that Ryan has a can-do attitude when serving the community and is often tapped to deliver messages of inspiration to ladies at programs throughout Baldwin County.
“She is a passionate woman who loves Bay Minette, works hard serving her community, and is an outstanding representative for her employer, The First,” Padgett said. “We know she loves Bay Minette and Bay Minette loves Martha Roley Ryan.”
Ashley Jones Davis, executive director for the North Baldwin Chamber recognized those Board Members who had completed their terms of service and thanked them for their commitment to the Chamber.
Tiz Day has served since 2015, served as Secretary for the Chamber, and is an employee of Coastal Alabama Community College. Brian Seals has served since 2012, is a past chairman, and is an employee of Baldwin EMC. Dennis Tyree has served since 2016 and is an employee of Pepsi Atmore.
Brian Seals and Dennis Tyree were unable to attend the Annual Meeting due to other engagements, but the Chamber appreciates their service and dedication to the North Baldwin Community.
The 2018 and 2019 Chairman for the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Ben Hansert with Infirmary Health, closed out the evening assuring the membership that “your North Baldwin Chamber” continues to work hard for the membership, “We are 300 members strong and growing and your Chamber represents more than 6,000 employees.”
Hansert reviewed highlights from 2018 including networking opportunities provided and community events hosted, the #LocalLikeMe campaign launch and introduction of #LocalLikeMe Lilly, the continued partnerships in economic development, the Discover North Baldwin tourism initiative, and the $10,000 in scholarships awarded in 2018.
“These are merely a handful of successes that your chamber saw in 2018,” Hansert said, “and I am proud to share with you that on Aug. 10, 2018 the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama announced that the North Baldwin Chamber had received the Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce distinction.”
The Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce program shows that each chamber receiving the distinction is committed to the highest standards of organization management.
The North Baldwin Chamber’s State Accreditation illustrates the continued commitment to the highest professional standards and stands as an assurance that members are investing in an organization working on their behalf for the greater good.
“A year ago I shared with you a quote from Vince Lombardi, ‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence,’” Hansert said. “In 2018 we experienced excellence, and in 2019 we will continue chase perfection.”