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Column: Annual Chamber Dinner a reason to look back

ESCANABA — Planning the Annual Dinner is always a special time at the Chamber of Commerce because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the positive activities and accomplishments of the past year. While space does not allow for a complete description of all the events of 2019, I’d like to pass along some of our calendar highlights.

We began the year with the kick-off of the Delta Force Leadership Reconnaissance Mission. It was our privilege to work with 34 emerging leaders of Delta County who made the commitment to become more actively involved in community affairs. The Class of 2019 spent the year with known leaders as their instructors and the entire community as their classroom.

Fire and Ice, the Chamber’s annual mid-winter fundraising gala, was held at the Terrace Resort and Convention Center. Guests enjoyed an evening of fine dining, endless entertainment, dancing and exciting prizes. Before the night was over, more than $30,000 in door prizes, raffle and auction items were given away.

Members sponsored the increasingly popular Business After Hours. On an average, 150 members enjoy the Chamber’s monthly event that offers a perfect combination of socializing fun and networking with other business people.

Staying involved in community affairs topped the Chamber’s list of priorities this year. We were represented at meetings, along with others from Delta County, as the staff and commission worked closely with focus groups to gather information on key topics relevant to the County’s Master Plan.

Uppertunities is the U.P.’s premier business and tourism conference. In the spring, Ken Wasco was a featured presenter who offered a motivating session about customer service excellence just before the start of Delta County’s busy tourism season. His message must have resonated with participants ~ I can’t remember a time when so many visitors commented on the friendliness and helpful attitude of our fine community.

A successful Chamber Golf Outing was held at the Escanaba Country Club in June. The great weather helped, but the true reason for the success of the annual golf outing was because of the involvement of our kind and generous Chamber members.

We received a fantastic response from volunteers to fill more than 300 positions for this year’s Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass tournament, which we simply refer to as the LPGA. The 2019 event was an official United States Qualifier for the Evian Championship in France. We truly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers, not only does it make our job easier, but it motivates us to work even harder to show the Symetra Tour why the Upper Peninsula is such a special place to hold their world-class event.

Just after the LPGA tournament, the Michigan History Center held their annual conference in Delta County. Organizers reported record attendance at this year’s U.P. event. They were most impressed with all the facilities they used and the welcoming attitude of Delta County.

In August, the U.P. State Fair wrapped up its 10th Anniversary under Authority management. It was another record setting year with a 2.24% increase in attendance. The U.P. State Fair Authority renewed their management agreement with the Chamber of Commerce and we look forward to many more years of fair growth and improvement.

Chamber member restaurants hosted “Lunch with the Governor” during the U.P. State Fair in August. This was Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first visit to the fair. I’m sure she was impressed with the banquet served by our members and the attentive audience as guests listened to her presentation about State affairs.

The Lake States Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo was a wonderful success in September. We are looking forward to hosting the event again in 2020 as the Great Lakes Timber Professionals celebrate the 75th anniversary of Logging Congress. The organizers have high expectations that our community will throw a big party to celebrate their milestone – they won’t be disappointed!

Tomorrow, more than 150 bicyclists will take part in the award-winning Delta County Century Ride. Bikers have been pedaling in this event since 2002. Every year, they travel Delta County’s slightly less traveled back roads as they enjoy food and refreshments. Thanks to the involvement of our member restaurants, the Century Ride continues to claim that the only thing better than the view, is the food!

This column has come full circle on 2019 Chamber activities except to report on the most significant endeavor of the year, the construction, dedication and opening of the new multi-use complex on the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

Thanks to the generosity of the John and Melissa Besse Foundation and many others that followed with their support, this dynamic building (home of the Commerce Center organizations and two museums) opened just after a busy fair week. Because of its significance in our community, the Chamber’s Annual Dinner will feature awards that recognize those that were incredibly supportive and allowed for the successful completion of the building project in less than a year.

Please consider joining us at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner on October 10th as we share the memories and celebrate the accomplishments of those who build UP our deeply rooted community.

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Vickie Micheau is the executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce

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