VALPARAISO | The Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce won the 2013 Chamber of Commerce of the Year award at the annual Indiana Chamber Executives Association luncheon.
"The hard work and dedication of the professionals at the chamber is apparent through the works submitted for review by the judging panel," ICEA President Shelli Williams said. "The Valpo Chamber was up against some very well-respected competition, so to take top honors like this really says a lot."
Valpo Chamber President Rex Richards said the work given for judges to review was a stack several inches high. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber's accreditation process and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy and membership development.
Richards said the chamber has 725 members, and the fact it is based on the chamber's performance in 2012 is especially gratifying because that was the organization's centennial year. The chamber also won in 2005.
"This great honor is a testament to the staff and board leadership of the Valpo Chamber who, over time, have set the bar high for performance and effectiveness on behalf of the members," Richard said. "Everything we do is for the benefit of our member investors. It's all about service. If our members are successful, we are successful."
Among the reasons cited by the judges as being factors in receiving the award were the chamber's Community Improvement Awards and the business appreciation luncheon, its strong financial performance, its high membership reinvestment rates and its strong advocacy on local, state and national issues.
"Our chamber has succeeded in taking service to our members to a very high level, and this statewide recognition brings great honor, not only to the Valpo Chamber, but to our community, county and region," said Chamber Board Chairman Jonathan Nalli. Nalli is also CEO of Porter Health Care System.
The chamber also received top "excellence" honors for its quarterly "Valparaiso Magazine," the annual membership directory and community resource guide, the annual U-Guide University student resource book and its website. Its annual report received honorable mention.
Also at the luncheon, which was held Friday at the downtown Hyatt in Indianapolis, Richards was designated an accredited executive. Susan Antoszewski, the chamber's marketing and communication specialist/publications editor and Kurt Gillins, chamber program director, received certified professional designations.