Chamber celebrates successful year, names best businesses

Published 9:53 am Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Vicksburg Warren Chamber of Commerce installed a new president and honored outstanding works of community businesses and individuals at its annual meeting Wednesday.

Lynn Foley, director of sales and marketing for Southern Hospitality Services, which operates the Courtyard by Marriott, Comfort Suites and Holiday Inn Express, will serve as the Chamber’s president in 2016.

Outgoing Chamber president Tom Kendall, president of Trustmark National Bank, turned the gavel over to Foley at the luncheon, held at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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“I welcome all ideas, suggestions, pats on the back and criticism,” Foley said.

Foley’s pastor, the Rev. Father P.J. “Patrick” Curley of St. Michael Catholic, gave the luncheon’s invocation and gave a special Irish blessing to Foley and the Chamber’s directors.

Jane Flowers, Chamber executive director, said the Chamber’s influence in Vicksburg is 120 years old.

“It was this group, the chamber of commerce, that raised money to purchase the land need for the establishment of the U.S. Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, two years after the great flood of 1927,” Flowers said.

Also honored Wednesday were the Chamber’s small businesses of the quarter and year, large businesses of the quarter and year, and ambassadors of the quarter and year.

Quarterly small businesses included the Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Software Plus and Donna Osborne, The Vicksburg Post and WVBG Radio.

Chamber members chose from among the quarterly winners the small business of the year, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Quarterly large businesses included Lady Luck Casino, Guaranty Bank, Diamond Jack’s Casino, Trustmark National Bank.

Large business of the year was Trustmark National Bank.

Quarterly ambassadors included Stefani Evans of Guaranty Bank, Audrey Moore of Trustmark Bank, Steve Pranger of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Engineering Research and Development Center, and Ashley Gatian of the VCVB.

Winner of the ambassador of the year honor, named after Bertha Cobb, a long-time chamber ambassador and individual member of the chamber, was Stefani Evans of Guaranty Bank.

Flowers discussed a number of accomplishments, made possible by the generosity of chamber members.

“Members of this chamber have raised more than $400,000 for the Leader in Me initiative,” she said. The Leader in Me is an award-winning program aimed at providing students with the skills they need to excel academically and develop their leadership skills, based on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Vicksburg Warren County Chamber has 417 members, including 60 new members in the last year and a 95 percent retention rate of its membership.