The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Local Business

February 28, 2013

Opportunity knocks

Chamber awards businesses who answered the door

ANDERSON, Ind. — Madison County has seen its share of adversity.

“We’ve seen hard times; we’ve seen businesses close,” said Kyle Morey, president of the Madison County Chamber, “But that’s provided opportunity.”

And when opportunity knocks, local businesses answer.

Thursday night, the Chamber celebrated some of those local opportunists at its 2012 awards gala at the Paramount Theatre, including Cathy Gray, whose business, Gray’s Design Studio, was named Emerging Business of the Year.

“My dream of running a business out of my backyard, out of my potting shed, turned into this,” said Gray, walking through a symbolic ‘Door of Opportunity’ on the ballroom’s stage. “I have so many blessings in my life.”

Gray’s won over antimicrobial manufacturer Coeus Technology and Home Instead Senior Care, both of which have been in business fewer than five years and employ less than 100.

The Chamber also unveiled a new award this year, aimed at non-profit businesses who make a positive community impact, practice accountability, engagement and leadership, and focus on at least one of education, income and health outcomes.

That award went to the YMCA of Madison County, for its work to promote health and social responsibility in Anderson, Elwood and Pendleton.

“We had a great year in 2012, and we are just humbled and honored for this award,” said CEO Jimmy Byrd, accepting the award as speakers blasted the Village People’s “YMCA”.

The Y won over the Children’s Bureau/Exchange Club Family Resource Center and Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Madison County, which started in Anderson but has since moved to Delaware County.

A third award, recognizing the Small Business of the Year, was given to non-leathal defense technologies producer, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems.

“We serve our men and women in uniform,” said owner and founder Pete Bitar. “Them — their lives and limbs — are what we’re dedicated to protect. Our company is all about building and promoting products and systems that ultimately save lives and ultimately make a difference in the world.”

If there’s a common theme among the awards recipients, its that “their opportunity was found in serving others,” Morey said.

That includes individual award winners such as Ambassador of the Year Georgeann Whitworth, Chairman’s Award winner Mike Latchaw, Females Active in Business Award winner Janice Stamper, and Flagship Enterprise Center CEO Chuck Staley, who took the Keith Pitcher Character in Business Award.

Keith Pitcher, who headed the Chamber of Commerce for 13 years before retiring in 2010, “was a role model, a mentor, and even more than that, he was a friend,” Staley said. “This is a special honor, and it’s something I’ll treasure all my life.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook, @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter or call 648-4250.

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