Vienna Chamber awards banquet recognizes community contributions

By Colin Willard, Advocate Staff Writer
Posted 2/28/24

VIENNA — The Vienna Chamber of Commerce (VCOC) honored several local businesses and individuals for their community contributions at their annual awards banquet on Feb. 23 at the Vienna-Bassett …

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Vienna Chamber awards banquet recognizes community contributions


VIENNA — The Vienna Chamber of Commerce (VCOC) honored several local businesses and individuals for their community contributions at their annual awards banquet on Feb. 23 at the Vienna-Bassett Eagles.

At the beginning of the awards section of the evening, VCOC President Preston Hodapp recapped some of the organization’s 2023 events including the Vienna Sausage and Crawfish Festival, Trunk or Treat and Christmas Around the Square. He said the chamber plans to host events in 2024 including a return of the Vienna Sausage and Crawfish Festival on May 11. This year’s event will introduce a road rally before the festival begins in the afternoon.

Another announcement from the awards ceremony was the beginning of First Friday Coffee, a series of networking opportunities for VCOC members to meet, share coffee and discuss ideas for their businesses on the first Friday of each month. The chamber will announce the location and time through emails and Facebook posts about one month before the dates.

Hodapp also introduced the 2024 VCOC officers. Alongside his role as the president, Lisa Garro is the vice president, Tania Lambert is the treasurer and Danielle Eads is the secretary.

After the introductions, it was time for the first award. The New Horizon Award recognizes a member business for its “motivation and inspiration to find a niche in the local community” and the business’s ability to “evolve and grow as the business develops and expands.” Nominees must have been in operation for no more than five years to be eligible for the award.

Route 63 Distributing won the New Horizon Award. Other nominees included The Bus Stop, Farmers’ Meat Market and Serenity Therapeutic Massage.

The Pioneer Award recognizes member businesses that have been in business for at least 10 years for “its remarkable achievements, enduring contributions to the community, ethical business practices, and noteworthy community service endeavors.” Phelps Health won the Pioneer Award from a field of nominees that also included Barnhart Dental, Maries County Soil and Water, Meramec Regional Planning Commission, MFA Farmers Elevator Co. and Vienna Tax Service.

The final award recognizes an individual rather than a business. The Heart of Vienna Award goes to a person “whose actions reflect an extraordinary devotion and love for the Vienna community, whether through selfless volunteerism, warm greetings on the streets, generous sharing of time and talents or financial contributions.” Carrie Kleffner won the award from a list of nominees that included Mick Byrd, Tom Eads, Courtney Jeremy and Kendall Stratman.

The evening also featured guest speaker Phillip Arnzen from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce’s (MCOC) Government Affairs team. He said his department works with about 200 local chambers statewide along with about 2,000 state business members to advocate for business policies in the General Assembly.

In Arnzen’s address, he said business bills had been slowly moving through the legislature this session. A group of Republican legislators called the Freedom Caucus has caused bills on many topics to stall. Top priorities for MCOC during the legislative session include tax credits related to child care providers and increasing wages for child care workers. Other priorities include limiting workers’ compensation for people using marijuana on the job, the Federal Reimbursement Allowance for health care facilities and addressing public safety concerns to bring more businesses and workers to Missouri.