Madison Chamber Awards
honored for his
service to the community
Pepper Deli earns the
Business Citizenship Award
(February 2013) Bob Pimlott has touched many
lives in Madison and Jefferson County, Ind., over the years, primarily
through his volunteer work in child protection services. He has been
active in his church, the Jefferson County United Way, the Madison-Jefferson
County Public Library Board and the Casa Amiga board and has helped
guide the Jefferson County Youth Shelter, now Pathways, through its
early years, and more. And he has been instrumental in organizing the
new Clearinghouse project, which, when open, will centralize many nonprofit
agencies in Madison that help families in need.
I dont know how we would have gotten this far without Bob
working behind the scenes on the Clearinghouse, said the groups
director, Molly Dodge, who was among the first to congratulate Pimlott
with a hug.
by Don Ward
presents the Madison Chambers Community
Service Award to Bob
Pimlott on Jan. 30.
Pimlott was honored Jan. 23 by the Madison Area Chamber
of Commerce by winning its 2013 Jeff Garrett Community Service Award.
It is the chambers highest honor given each year. Pimlott joins
an impressive list of people who have won the award. He was truly surprised
upon hearing his name announced at the 89th annual chamber dinner, held
at Hanover Colleges Brown Campus Center.
I now know that when Ben Canida invites you to something, youd
better come prepared, Pimlott quipped upon receiving the award.
Visibly touched, he recounted how volunteerism had been such a big part
of his life that he had to learn how to balance family, work and volunteering.
He realized this lesson one night when his then-young son, Doug, asked
his wife, Elana, at dinner one night if daddy was staying for dinner
Id like to thank my family for all the nights when I wasnt
home for dinner, said the Wilkesboro, Pa., native.
Last years winner, Bob Greene, presented the award to Pimlott
and read several inspiring letters of recommendation for Pimlotts
selection, including one from his pastor.
The chamber also presented its annual Business Citizenship Award, which
went to John and Lori Heitz, owners of Red Pepper Deli & Catering.
The couple opened the business more than 12 years ago and just last
year opened a second restaurant across the street, Red Pepperoni. Both
restaurants are located on Madisons Main Street at Cragmont Street.
John Heitz made brief remarks, thanking my biggest customer,
his father, Bernard Heitz, who died just the previous week at age 87.
John Heitz credited his father for mentoring him in running a business,
saying, He taught me most of what I know about running a business.
I can still hear him now telling me the two most important things: working
hard and taking care of your customers.
In addition to the two awards, the crowd of 265 people heard an update
from newly hired Executive Director Trevor Crafton. Outgoing chamber
board president Dwayne Cole of MainSource Bank gave brief remarks and
introduced incoming board president Marta Belt, who works as Ivy Techs
Regional Director of Academic Advising. She presented her outlook for
In the wake of last years shakeup of the countys economic
development agency, Economic Development Partners, by newly elected
Madison Mayor Damon Welch, the chamber spent much of the year reeling.
For years, the city, county and the Town of Hanover had annually contracted
with the nonprofit agency to oversee economic development activity countywide.
by Don Ward
Cole (far right) presents
the Madison Chambers Business
Citizenship Award to John and Lori
Heitz, owners of Red Pepper Deli &
Catering and Red Pepperoni.
The chamber, meanwhile, the previous year had conducted
a survey of its members and hired an outside consultant to study a possible
merger with EDP, and its Eco15 educational component, to consolidate
resources. That merger eventually took place as a result of the study,
placing EDP Executive Director Corey Murphy over the chamber as well.
The merged organization then created and announced a new joint logo
and developed a joint Internet website.
Amid the year of analysis by the mayors appointed Blue Ribbon
Panel to study and make recommendations for change, Murphy resigned
and has since left town to head the New Castle-Henry County (Ind.) Economic
Development Corp. The chamber was leaderless and lost 45 members, the
most in one year in its history. Belt, in her address, attributed the
membership drop to a poor economy and the uncertainty in the community
regarding EDP. Membership fell from a high of 400 in 2006 and 2007 to
a low last year below 300. Eight-year administrative assistant Lynda
Knoebel retired in October, leaving only Katie Wood, a recent hire,
to staff the office.
The chamber board decided to act and did so by hiring a new executive
director in 33-year-old Crafton in fall 2012. Crafton, who works solely
for the chamber and not EDP, was charged with rebuilding chamber membership
and immediately began visiting existing and former members. Since his
hiring in mid-November, Crafton told the crowd he had personally visited
146 businesses and was successful in signing up 20 new members. The
chamber has since not only increased its membership to 347 but also
sold 265 tickets to the Annual Dinner, about a dozen more than last
year, according to Wood.
Crafton announced that the chamber last year organized
36 networking events and increased from 19 to 40 the number of booths
at its fall fundraiser, Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew. Crafton added
that the chamber last year sold nearly $100,000 in Good Cents Gift Certificates,
which help promote spending at local businesses. The chamber this year
plans to revive the defunct spring golf scramble and continue its Business
Awards Dinner. It also plans to participate in a second annual Regional
Business Expo with neighboring chambers of commerce in Switzerland and
Scott Counties, and Carroll County, Ky. The inaugural Expo was held
last summer at Vevays Belterra Casino Resort. The chamber also
recently partnered with the Indiana Small Business Development Center
in New Albany to provide business coaching and workshops.
Belt, meanwhile, in her address admitted that the because of the ongoing
review of the future of EDP that the chamber had not accomplished much
last year. All of the progress and momentum that was building
with the new alliance came to a halt with the release of the Blue Ribbon
Panel report, she said. While not overly critical of the
chamber, the report was critical of our alliance partner EDP. Our strategic
plan we had been developing the previous two years had stopped.
Belt said that after several weeks of uncertainty, the chamber board
decided to move forward with its mission, regardless of the outcome
of the citys decisions on economic development. Equally, both
the Jefferson County Commission and the Town of Hanover in recent weeks
signed new contracts with EDP for the coming year, while the mayor and
Madison City Council continue to debate how to move forward on economic
Belt said the immediate impact to the chamber will be added cost in
adding staff, since the chamber had planned to share those costs with
EDP. Belt voiced her frustration, saying she was not alone, and urged
community leaders to work together, put aside differences for
the economic future of our community.
Back to February 2013