North Baldwin Chamber celebrates 75th anniversary at annual meeting


BAY MINETTE, Alabama — The North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce celebrated 75 years of service to the community with its Annual Meeting and Dinner Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the John F. Rhodes Civic Center in Bay Minette.

The event was catered by Naman’s Catering and was presented by Baldwin EMC.

Additional sponsors included the Baldwin County Commission, City of Bay Minette, North Baldwin Utilities, North Baldwin Infirmary, Coastal Alabama Community College, Stuart Contracting, Baldwin Gulf Coast Pest Control, United Bank, Quincy Compressor, Gulf Packaging Inc., The First, Alabama Power, Power Productions, Blooming Fabulous, Baldwin Pole and Piling Co. Inc.

The North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce includes 309 members, representing more than 6,000, said 2018-19 Chairman of the Board Ben Hansert of Infirmary Health.

In 2019, the Chamber:

• Achieved a 91 percent retention rate of existing members.

• Hosted 24 member-focused events.

• Hosted five community events, two of which saw a change in venue in 2019.

• Introduced a health benefits program available to all members.

• Awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships through the Young Professionals and Junior Ambassadors.

• Partnered with all of the Baldwin County Chambers to form the Baldwin County Chamber Coalition in an effort to create a unified voice for business in Baldwin County representing more than 3,500 business members and 75,000 employees.

• Continued to promote our community through campaigns like Discover North Baldwin and Local Like Me.

• As an Alabama Accredited Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber provided a 311 percent return on investment with an average of $723 per member with dues of $232 per member.

“These are merely a handful of successes that your chamber has seen over the last two years and I am proud to have been a part of it,” Hansert said.

Welcome was presented by Donna Givens of Baldwin EMC, who is also the Chamber’s vice chairperson of the Board of Directors for 2020. Givens recognized elected officials in attendance, including Mayor Bob Wills and city council members, county commissioners Jeb Ball, Joe Davis and Billie Jo Underwood, Baldwin County District Attorney Bob Wilters and Baldwin County Probate Judge Harry D’Olive, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, along with representatives from Congressman Bradly Byrne and Senator Doug Jones’ offices. Invocation was presented by County Commissioner Jeb Ball.

A short presentation followed the meal, beginning with the presentation of a check from Chamber Executive Director Ashley Jones Davis on behalf of the North Baldwin Chamber Foundation to Mayor Bob Wills on behalf of the city of Bay Minette for $2,900 in contributions raised in 2019 through the Bay Minette in Bloom campaign.

Awards were presented beginning with the Community Project Award, presented to Carol Messer and Dianne Matthews with the Friends of First Responders Fund.

Michael Walker with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, inaugural recipient of the First Responder of the Year Award in 2018, then presented the 2020 First Responder of the Year to Investigator Nick Richerson with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

2020 Business awards were presented to CrossFit Bay Minette, Emerging Business of the Year; Blooming Fabulous, Small Business of the Year; and United Bank, Business of the Year.

The evening culminated in the passing of the ceremonial gavel from Hansert to 2020 Chairman Tripp Ward of Alabama Power.

“I am looking forward to serving as your 2020 Chairman and am very excited about the year ahead,” Ward said. “I look forward to working alongside each of you this year. Our staff has hit the ground running in 2020 and we look forward to carrying the momentum from 2019 with us as we press forward.”

The Chamber will be focusing on membership growth, concentrating on enhancing the services and programs offered to its members, and communicating and educating those not familiar with the benefit the Chamber of Commerce brings, he said.

Ward introduced the 2020 Board of Directors, including Vice Chairman Donna Givens of Baldwin EMC, Secretary Sara G. Davis of Coastal Alabama Community College; Treasurer Martha Ryan of The First; Jason Padgett, North Baldwin Utilities; Christy Rollin, Standard Furniture; Larry Taylor, Gulf Packaging; Tom Mitchell, Stuart Contracting; Ray Long, Baldwin Pole & Piling; George Pittman, Pepsi Atmore; Nick Gee, Robertson, Andreoli & Covington; Brandon Peed, Gulf Coast Automation Solutions; Laura Smith, Baldwin County Soil & Water Conservation District; Keith Baggett, Oakwood Center for Living; Matt Franklin, Delta Realty; Ex-Officer Members, Immediate Past Chairman Ben Hansert; North Baldwin Infirmary; NBCC Young Professionals, Shane Hadley, Baldwin Gulf Coast Pest; City of Bay Minette Mayor Bob Wills, and Baldwin County Commissioner Jeb Ball.

Outgoing Board members were also recognized, including Charlotte England, United Bank; Shane Hadley, Baldwin Gulf Coast Pest; Jan Paul, IP Services/Retired; Kathy Dobbins, Shane Thompson Builders; and Dewane Hayes, Sweat Tire.

2019-20 Junior Ambassadors are seniors Tanner Smith, Landon Jones, Olivia Lamb, Mary Stuart Lewis, Kristen Phillips, Lori Ann McCullough, Jayla Bennett, Alli Wilson, Eve Powell; juniors Tyler Siggers, Kelly Weatherford, Hamp Weatherford, Lindsey Stewart and Brady Seals.