The Logan County Area of Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting Wednesday night at Chattan Loch in downtown Bellefontaine.
Five special awards were presented, including two inaugural categories.
The Richard J. Rupp Leadership Award was presented to Kim Wagner (pictured) of Bellefontaine.
Wagner is the owner of Progressive Specialties on East Columbus Avenue in Bellefontaine, a business he built over the last 30 years.
Wagner has served on many boards in our community, including many years on the chamber board.
His positive attitude and passion for Logan County reflect the meaning of the Rupp Award.
Kim, who is battling cancer, was unable to attend the event.
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Watch his wife, Tara, speak on his behalf.
Watch Kim's acceptance speech.
The Integrity in Business Award was presented to Robinson Investments in Bellefontaine.
Jerry Robinson and twin sons Mark and Matt (pictured left) accepted the award.
Listen to Jerry Robinson reflect on the award.
The Ambassador of the Year was given to Anita Ricketts (pictured right) of Real Living HER.
She has led several ribbon cuttings over the last twelve months.
Hear Ricketts talk about the honor.
Henry Weisz of Bellefontaine earned the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Weisz (pictured left) was the longtime owner of Wolfheim's and Huber-Buchenroth clothing stores in downtown Bellefontaine. The 89-year-old helped run the stores for more than 50 years. Huber-Buchenroth closed in 2005.
Jason Duff is the first-ever Entrepreneur of the Year recipient.
Duff (pictured right), who owns Comstor Outdoor, has spearheaded the revitalization of many downtown storefronts. The accomplished keynote speaker founded the Main Street Marketplace, formerly the Centre City Mall. He also purchased the Canby Building in June.
Listen to Duff reflect on the award.
Retiring board chairperson Peter Stolly emceed the event and presented the awards.
Ron Zimmerly of Bellefontaine was introduced as Stolly's successor.
Chamber President/CEO Paul Benedetti said the economic climate in our county is on the upswing. He said the manufacturing sector has enjoyed a banner year thanks to Honda and its supplier companies ramping up production following last year's tsunami in Japan.
Benedetti said about 700 workers have been hired this year to help meet manufacturers' needs.
He said the unemployment rate in Logan County has dropped from 10 percent last summer to 6.6 percent in August.
Listen to Benedetti talk about the award winners and the economy.
Retiring board members were praised for their years of service. They include Jeremy Hankins, Bill Holtsberry, Carly Schaub, and Jim Zerkle.
New board members were introduced. They include Linda Botkin, Robinson Investments; Jim Bouldin, Hilliker YMCA; Rick Hatcher, Citizens Federal; and Jeff Price, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.