DENHAM SPRINGS — It was standing room only Wednesday as business owners and employees listened to Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce CEO and President April Wehrs give the 2015 chamber update, install the Board of Directors and name the business winners of the year.
“The bottom line is we need to strengthen our organization as a whole,” Wehrs said, adding that it’s needed to keep the more than 500-member organization moving forward in 2015. “Our organization as a whole needs to meet the needs of citizens, employ people and strengthen our businesses.”
One of the chamber’s main focuses in 2015 is completing renovations to its new home, a building it purchased in 2014 for $264,000. The chamber has made substantial renovations thanks to a $125,000 line of credit from a local bank, Wehrs said during the annual Chamber of Commerce Officers and Board of Directors Banquet Awards Luncheon.
“We needed a place to continue daily operations ... a place to make the chamber strong,” Wehrs said, adding that it has outgrown its small home on Hummell Street.
In 2014, the chamber hosted more than 65 meetings, attended by more than 600 members, she said.
Wehrs said business owners still say their No. 1 issue is finding quality employees.
Wehrs said the chamber continues to support the National Flood Insurance Plan; education; the road overlay program; a community college; the widening of Interstate 12, La. 447 and U.S. 190; the Pete’s Highway Project; and other projects.
“It all comes back to business development and leadership development,” Wehrs said.
Past Chairman Kim Sanders welcomed new Chairman Wayne Dugas and said it has “been a real pleasure to serve on the leadership of the Livingston Parish Chamber.”
In addition to the 2015 chamber update, awards were presented to the 2014 Small Business of the Year — L.A. Champagne & Co.; the Medium Business of the Year — Blount General Contractors, represented by John Blount; the Large Business of the Year — Our Lady of the Lake Livingston; Main Street Business of the Year — Salassi Fine Jewelry and Gifts; Member of the Year — John Holmes, of Holmes Building Materials; and the New Business of the Year — Belk.
Former Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin was honored as he passed the gavel to new Mayor Gerard Landry, while outgoing Denham Springs council members Arthur Perkins, John Wascom and Annie Fugler said their goodbyes.
Business owners honored the 2015 chamber Board of Directors, including Dugas, of Lard Oil Company; Regina Scott, of North Oaks Health System; Sanders, of L.A. Champagne and Co.; Shannon Bernard, of Primerica; Brian Abels, of Boyer, Hebert, Abels and Angelle; and Blount, of Blount General Contractors.
The 2015 Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors consist of Sonya Allen, Realtor; Chad Bacas, of Forte and Tablada; Chad Calongne, of Rotolo’s Pizzeria; Mike Cotton, of Office Depot; Karen Demaree, of Bizworks, LLC; Jackie Dykes, of GMFS; Candy Forbes, of Denham Springs Housing; Ronnie Foshee, of First Guaranty Bank; Margot May, of Livingston Business Journal; Sherry Mely, of Iberia Bank; Chuck Raborn, of Chuck’s Sportscards of LA; Johnathan Whitman, of Hudson Whitman Group; and Jill Wyble, of Our Lady of the Lake.