The Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet saw a good turn out Tuesday, where those present heard about Syracuse, “Past, Present and Future” from speakers Ann Garceau, out-going chamber president Kathy Boyts and Dick Pelletier, prior to the evening’s keynote speaker, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman.
Garceau spoke on the Syracuse-Wawasee Digital Archives and the Indiana Memory Project, which are efforts to digitalize photos, documents and other artifacts. She noted the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum is continually looking for photos to digitalize.
For Syracuse’s present, Boyts spoke about the chamber’s purpose, about getting business to come to Syracuse while still serving existing members. Pelletier spoke of the new youth sports complex, which is expected to be largely done this spring, and the industrial complex as Syracuse’s future.
Later, Kauffman spoke on building community with community building, looking at infrastructure developments in Goshen as examples.
“We don’t do everything right in Goshen,” Kauffman said. “Some may be appropriate for Syracuse, some may not.”
Kauffman noted cities and towns have been shrinking in Indiana, yet Goshen has managed to grow becoming the 28th largest city and then the 25th largest city in the state. As to why Goshen is growing, Kauffman noted several improvements, such as bike trails and Mill Race redevelopment, have attracted young people.
Kauffman stated their vision for Goshen is not that different from many towns or cities: namely, that “it will always be a place to call home.”
Stewardship was another key part of Kauffman’s speech with him noting among its meanings the term can also mean to take and make better. In particular, Kauffman noted the importance of downtowns and making live-able communities, which attract companies looking to move.
“The downtown reflects how a community feels about itself,” said Kauffman.
Kauffman also described how Goshen has rehabilitated several buildings, many of which have become community hubs or city offices, while tearing others down, making way for new buildings or parking. Goshen’s establishing of a redevelopment commission has helped with the process, along with the Goshen Chamber of Commerce. Facade grants have also helped improve a lot of the buildings.
Beyond beautifications, another driving force for involving the community and getting people downtown has been Goshen’s First Fridays.
“You have to work on the back door, too,” said Kauffman, adding that Goshen has had issues with landlord-owned properties becoming eyesores. “You can make people dress up outsides like they (the houses) were occupied.”
For the future, Kauffman noted Goshen plans to stay on the same path, which might not be the one for Syracuse; however, Kauffman stated he sees some good things in Syracuse.
Several chamber members and local individuals were also recognized during the banquet with awards being handed out in 12 categories.
Winners were: Tim Yoder, Leisure Pool & Spa, Entrepreneur of the Year; Dynamic Spine and Rehabilitation Center, Outstanding New Business; Wawasee Bowl, Outstanding Restaurant; Creative Fish Art Gallery, Outstanding Retail; Syracuse Parks Department, Outstanding Service Organization; The Papers Inc., The Chamber Award;
Dick Pelletier, Outstanding Voluntarism; Richard Owen, Owen Family Funeral Homes, Outstanding Professional; Wawasee Pee Wee Football, Outstanding Nonprofit; Ritter Electric, HVAC & Plumbing, Beautification Award; Doug and Jeannine Schrock, Philanthropy Award; IU Health Goshen, Outstanding Service Business.
Sponsors for the awards included Key Bank, CenturyLink, Lake City Bank, Owen Family Funeral Homes, Northern Lakes Insurance, H & R Block, Monteith Tire, Mutual Bank, The Papers Inc., Interra Credit Union, Farmers State Bank and Lakeland Animal Clinic.
Three area businesses were also recognized for their 50 years in business and were The Papers Inc., Sudlows Pier Shop and Don’s Excavating.
Boyts was also recognized for her service to the chamber as both a president and board member with a placard. Boyts then handed leadership of the chamber to new president Richard Owen, stating “The future of the chamber is strong.”
Two new board members, Chip Erwin and Norene Black, were also introduced.
In front from left are: Kathy Boyts, Outstanding Retail Business; Stacey and Gabe Ritter, representing Ritter Electric, HVAC & Plumbing, Beautification Award; and Cindy Jonsson representing IU Health Goshen, Outstanding Service Business.