Annual Awards: Charles Heitbrink; Benton and Assoc.; Don’s Place; Jax Public Library

By Benjamin Cox on January 25, 2019 at 9:03am

The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting was held last night.

Representatives from businesses, charity organizations, and many more gathered at Hamilton’s North East yesterday evening for food, drinks, networking, and local camaraderie.

The local Chamber of Commerce celebrates three businesses in the area every year, with awards being given to one business in each of these three categories: Large Business of the Year, for any business with 25 or more employees; Small Business of the Year, for groups with 25 or fewer employees; and Not-for-Profit Business of the Year. An award is also given to recognize a specific individual in the local community, through the Circle of Excellence Award.

The Large Business of the Year: Benton and Associates. Reggie Benton is President of Benton and Associates, and was on hand yesterday evening to receive the award.

“Well, it truly is an honor. The Chamber of Commerce does so much for this entire community, and we’re pleased to be a part of it. My father, Robert Benton, not only founded Benton and Associates but also had the privilege of serving as Board President for this organization. A new and rather significant infrastructure project – the new water treatment plant – allowed us to sort of come forward this year, and we sincerely appreciate the recognition.

The Small Business of the Year: Don’s Place. Owner Dan Kindred says being part of the community and supporting others through events is how he gives back to Jacksonville.

“It’s a great feeling. Jacksonville has been so good to me and to Don’s Place, so I try to help out and sponsor things. We’ve been putting on the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade since 1989 and the Chili Cook-Off since 1990, as well as other events like the Float Your Boat that we also put on. We try and give back, and I appreciate everybody that does come into my business and spends money with me. It’s my way of giving back to them. Jacksonville is a great place to live and raise children, because it doesn’t have the problems that a lot of other communities have. I just think Jacksonville is so great.”

The Not-for-Profit Business of the Year: the Jacksonville Public Library. JPL Executive Director Chris Ashmore was in attendance to receive the award for the local public library.

“The Jacksonville Public Library is very happy to receive this award from the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce. It means a lot to us. We always feel like we do a good job, but to be recognized by a group such as the Chamber means a lot to the entire library. I would like to thank all of our staff, all of our board members, and every patron that utilizes the library. The people are what keep the library going.”

The Circle of Excellence Award winner for 2018 is Charles Heitbrink. Charles was not able to attend last night. However, his son David was at the ceremony to accept the award for his father. In addition, the official new Chamber of Commerce Board President is Susie Drake.