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Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 5:59 AM
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A day trip to success Local businesses honored at banquet

EDIE ZUVANICH Special to the Press

Freezing weather didn’t affect the warm welcome Taylor business people gave Chet Garner, writer and host of The Daytripper travel show. Garner was the keynote speaker for the Greater Taylor Chamber of Commerce 2024 Chamber and Community Awards Banquet Tuesday.

“It’s just a cool opportunity to come back into a city that I love and hopefully bring a couple words of encouragement. Taylor is going through a crucible. It’s been a certain thing for generations now and change is a-coming, but everything that is so special about Taylor, I have all faith that that’s going to continue,” Garner said.

More than 400 people attended the sold-out event, the largest audience to date, Executive Director Tia Rae Stone said. She recalled that in 2017 there were only 132 participants.

“This is my favorite event of the year. I get to see all the great businesses, old and new. I know at least somebody at every table,” Stone said.

Two members of the clergy took home top honors as Pastor George Qualley received the Rotary Outstanding Citizen of the Year, and The Rev. Terry Pierce was named Taylor Area Businesswomen Outstanding Woman of the Year.

“This year is the year of the pastor,” Stone said.

Daytripper Chet Garner talks about the great value that Taylor has, and how the current residents are helping to write the story of Taylor’s future. Photos by Jason Hennington

The Citizen of the Year award was presented by Ryan Stiba of the Rotary Club, and the Outstanding Woman of the Year was presented by Regina Jo Carlson of the Taylor Area Businesswomen.

Other awards included the Chamber Chairman’s award, presented to Diana Phillips, and the Ambassador of the Year award, which went to Michael Coe. The Business of the Year was McDonald’s.

Deborah Parker, outgoing chair of the banquet committee and the award recipient for Customer Service of the Year, said the chamber’s growth and an increase in businesses willing to sponsor the event made having a celebrity guest speaker a reality. Parker has been in charge of the banquet for more years than anyone, including herself, could remember, and was happy to be ending her run on a high note.

“I’m still going to be involved in the community, I’m still going to be involved in the chamber, but I’ll just be a banquet committee member, I’m not going to chair it. I’m going to give somebody else the opportunity to take the reins with new and fresh ideas.”

Jesse Ancira, Jr., owner of sponsor Ancira Salsa, said the awards ceremony gives businesses motivation as they start the new year.

“Businesses want to be recognized and should be recognized. In our company, we thrive on recognition because that’s part of knowing that you’re doing a good job. You don’t have to win, but you at least want people talking about you,” he said.

Samsung Austin Semiconductor also sponsored the event. Director of Communications Michele Glaze said the company was excited to be part of the chamber during this time of the growth and progress.

“They’re really helping to address key things that businesses need in Taylor and we’re very proud to be a member,” she said.

Coping with the changes caused by such fast growth was part of the conversation Garner had with the audience.

“All the people in this room, as long as you don’t leave your post, will get to decide what the next generation of Taylor will see. Are you going to be building something you’ll be proud of or are you going to be tearing something down just for the sake of argument? You have a seat at the table to decide what the future of t is going to be,” Garner said. “You’re getting to write the stories the future will tell.”

Chet Garner (right) thanks Tia Stone, Chamber president, and all of the attendees at the chamber banquet after his presentation Tuesday night. Photo by Jason Hennington

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