Column: Chamber celebrates member milestones at annual dinner
ESCANABA — The Island Resort and Casino was transformed into a night of “Roaring 20s” celebration Thursday in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Chamber of Commerce.
There were many important member milestones in the 100-year history of the Chamber that were celebrated during the awards ceremony. This business column will feature the award winners over the next few weeks.
First up, is the Business Partner of the Year award, presented by Visit Escanaba, to a Chamber member that is working fervently to enhance community awareness and engagement on projects and activities.
During the inaugural year of the Escanaba Chamber of Commerce, tourism was identified as a vital industry in the Upper Peninsula. In 1922, a conference was held at the Chamber to discuss what the community could do to support leisure time activities and travel. The Escanaba Morning Press reported that the hotels of Upper Michigan should be keenly alert to the possibilities of the tourist traffic and that summer visitors should be assured of good treatment and efficient service.
That same year, construction was set to be completed on one of the most notable recreation resorts in the region. Under the direction of owners Paul and Robert Wickert, the Terrace Gardens was built providing Delta County with the most modern summer resort and recreation grounds in the Northwest. It was at that time that the Chamber’s partnership was born with a tourism business that would benefit the people of this community as an ideal spot for summer pastime.
The Wickert family sold the popular ballroom business to Mr. and Mrs. Frank McGovern in 1934. Later that year, following the death of her husband, Mrs. McGovern sold the business to Arthur Pouliot, a lifelong resident of Escanaba who operated a confectionary store for 26 years. The Pouliot family, early tourism pioneers, owned the Terrace until it was sold to a young, ambitious couple in 2016.
While the business changed ownership over the years, each owner’s commitment, and assurance to offer visitors good treatment and efficient service never wavered.
This ambitious couple, Jen and Jarred Drown, along with their business partners, Rick and Jessica Elrod, realize the great potential for the area, especially an area overlooking Little Bay de Noc and have given the business its own identity. They have made significant investments to improve and expand the resort, most recently adding Biggby Coffee, located within the lobby of the Terrace Bay Hotel.
As their business grows, so, too, does their dedicated commitment to offer quality entertainment and leisure time activities for the enjoyment of the community and visitors.
The Terrace Bay Hotel is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and generously supports chamber and community events. Jarred, as president of Visit Escanaba and a member of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association board lends his expertise and, as a business partner, encourages others to embrace the potential of our waterfront community as a great outdoor destination.
On Thursday evening, we honored the owners of the Terrace Bay Hotel and Freshwater Tavern with the 2021 Business Partner of the Year Award.
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Vickie Micheau is executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce