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First chamber awards highlight local businesses, community leaders
TULALIP Chamber Chairman David Toyer said the awards were intended to highlight the 100th anniversary of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce.
At their monthly breakfast gathering in the Tulalip Casino, the chamber recognized numerous local business and community leaders.
"Frankly, we were somewhat stunned and pleasantly surprised when David Toyer called us regarding this prestigious award," Gordon Bjorg, president of car and RV dealer Roy Robinson, Inc., said in a press release.
The chamber tabbed Roy Robinson as its first Business of the Year.
Bjorg was out of town for the award ceremony, during which son Gordon Bjorg, Jr., accepted the prize for his family's enterprise.
"It was an honor, something that was totally unexpected," Bjorg said following the chamber gathering.
According to a chamber press release, chamber officials selected Roy Robinson because of the company's commitment to the surrounding community. Among other outreach activities, chamber officials noted the car dealership regularly supplies vehicles for local events, including RV's at military homecomings.
Named Business Leader of the Year, Gary Wright of Wright Realty/Coldwell Bankers said leaders first have to learn to serve.
"We all have civic responsibilities and I am proud to try and give back and be part of the solution," Wright said in comments made after the awards breakfast.
Regarding Wright's selection, chamber officials cited his service in many chamber leadership positions, as well as his involvement with the Marysville Noon Rotary and the Washington Association of Realtors.
Before handing out the award for Elected Officials of the Year, Toyer said the chamber board decided there just had to be two winners, especially since those winners work so closely together.
"We're all in the same canoe and moving in the same direction," said Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, who split the honor for Elected Official of the Year with Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall.
Kendall was out of town the day of the chamber event, but left a videotaped message. He said the joined goal of both Marysville government and the tribes has always economic development and stability, adding he and Sheldon have and will continue to work hand-in-hand at reaching those goals.
"I don't know that a person can get more out of life than by being a volunteer," was the seemingly appropriate comment of Volunteer of the Year Ken Cage, president of the Marysville Historical Society.
Besides his obvious leadership with the historical society, in selecting Cage, chamber leadership noted his involvement with American Legion Post 178 and the local Masons.
Long-time chamber member Robyn Warren took home the specially named Millikan-Howard Chairman's Award specifically for her service to the chamber. Warren has served in several leadership positions for the chamber, including many years as treasurer.
The award was named after two well-known chamber leaders, the late Mike Howard and Ian Millikan, who lost his battle with cancer June 21.
"In the early 1990's," Toyer said, " chambers of commerce across America began reinventing themselves."
Toyer added that meant moving beyond what he called the traditional "3P chamber role of parades, pageants and pancake breakfasts."
Locally, the chamber brought in three new leaders, Howard, Millikan and Warren.
"None of these individuals saw themselves as leaders at the time, but leaders they became and together they helped create one of the most successful and proactive chambers in the state today," Toyer said.
"I am so pleased this award represents a tribute to Mike Howard and Ian Millikan for all their community contributions," Warren said. "This annual award will continue their legendary vision."
According to information released by the chamber, the group's executive board developed the awards, as well as the criteria used to pick the winners. Nominations came from chamber members.