The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce gathered Thursday to celebrate the past year and to recognize some of the businesses and people who made it possible.
The 107th Annual Meeting and Gala is an event held each year by the chamber to celebrate the group's success and to honor volunteers and other who have served the chamber in the past year and longer.
Three community leaders were given prestigious awards, and four businesses were recognized for their contributions to the local economy.
The meeting also featured the “passing of the gavel” from outgoing chamber president David Lee of Jackson EMC, to incoming chairman Brian Daniel, president of Carroll Daniel Construction.
Jim Mathis was award the Distinguished Citizen Award for his service to the Gainesville-Hall County community.
Mathis has been president and CEO of the North Georgia Community Foundation since 1998. At that time, the foundation’s assets were about $3 million. Under his leadership, charitable assets have grown to more than $50 million and total assets are more than $170 million.
“Jim has provided quiet leadership, dedication and sheer determination to get things done in our community,” said Philip Wilheit, who presented the award. “He knows our community, understands our community, and most importantly, cares about our community.”
Mathis, who worked in banking with his father before joining the foundation, partnered with Steve Gilliam and Mary Hart Wilheit to bring the 1996 Summer Olympics to Gainesville, and he helped coordinate more than 2,000 volunteers at the canoe/kayak site. He continues to be a strong advocate for the venue.
Wilheit said Mathis continue to dream big, helping spearhead the creation of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank and becoming one of the founders of the John Jerrard Concert Series.
Mimi Collins, CEO of Longstreet Clinic, P.C., received the Community Service Award for her involvement in numerous organizations in the community.
Collins is a founding board member of Glory, Hope & Life, a nonprofit that works locally to enrich the lives of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. She currently serves on the board of directors of Vision 2030 and the United Way of Hall County. She is chairwoman of Gainesville/Hall ’96, which is working to revitalize the ’96 Olympic venue on Clarks Bridge Road.
Now in her 20th year at Longstreet Clinic, Collins oversees the multispecialty medical group that employs more than 700, including more than 100 physicians and 60 advanced practice providers representing over 15 specialties.
“I can’t imagine how this woman does all she does, with her busy and expanding job and all she does for our community,” said Lee.
Randall Frost, managing partner of the Stewart Melvin & Frost law firm and former chamber chairman, was given the W.G. Mealor award. The award was given by the current chairman to a volunteer who had gone above and beyond the call of duty in working for the chamber and the local community.
“Randall is always there,” Lee said. “He is a true friend, a thoughtful and wise advisor, a person who is always willing to help.”
In addition, Caldwell Electrical Contractor and The Little Ladybug were recognized as Small Businesses of the Year, while Georgia Chair and Duncan Exterminating were honored as Family Businesses of the Year.
- Caldwell Electrical Contractor: Joe and Deborah Caldwell opened Caldwell Electrical with six employees in 1988. Today, the company employs more than 30, dispatches 20 trucks a day, operated three locations and is planning a fourth.
- The Little Ladybug: Founded by Carole Cox Hudgins in 1994, The Little Ladybug celebrates 20 years as a great one-stop solution for unique gifts, housewares, children’s clothing, stationary and invitations.
- Georgia Chair: Georgia Chair Company has been in business in Gainesville for over 100 years – 90 of which have been at their current location at the corner of Industrial Boulevard and Grove Street. Founded in 1914, it is one of the last manufacturers of solid oak school furniture in the United States. President Harry Bagwell, is a third-generation owner and now employs 48.
- Duncan Exterminating: Floyd and Sherry Duncan started Duncan Exterminating in 1981 in Gainesville. Today, all three of their children, Brett, Matthew and Tina, work at the business. They have two locations, Gainesville and Dawsonville, and provide a wide array of termite and pest control services.
Silver Shovel awards are given to community members who have given service to the chamber and the community in the last year. Winners were announced at the gala, but will be honored at the chamber’s board meeting in June.
Winners include Kathy Amos, Brenau University; Perry Barnett, Rushton & Company; Cheryl Christian, Good News Clinics; Katie Dubnik, Forum Communications; John Girardeau, Community Volunteer; Morgan House, Lake Lanier Olympic Venue; Jay Kelly, Signs By Tomorrow; Michael Lancaster, Edward Jones; Terry Merck, American Yazaki Corporation; Frank Norton, Jr.; The Norton Agency; LeTrell Simpson, Con-Sen-Sus; Phil Sutton, Kubota; Mike Williams, Lanier Islands; William Bagwell, Homestead Investments; and David Miller, PhD, Brenau University.