AUGUSTA — It was glamor and shine at the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Friday, as the business organization ushered in a new year with a new sense of style.

The event brought together chamber members to celebrate their successes and accomplishments in posh style at the Augusta Civic Center. But this year’s version offered something different. In a nod to awards season, the annual event has been re-branded as the Kenney Awards, and to lend some suspense, three of the six Kenney Award winners were kept secret until they were announced Friday evening.

And the requested dress code was black-tie.

“2015 was a truly remarkable year for your chamber,” board chairman Eric Jermyn said, addressing the estimated 750 chamber members and guests gathered for the event. “We saw the very successful transition in leadership with Peter Thompson handing off the reins of the chamber after 26 years to Ross Cunningham. Under Ross’s leadership, we have seen growth in membership and increased participation in our already successful programs.”

In a nod to Thompson’s success as the long-time leader of the chamber, the Lifetime Achievement Award he received this year was named after him.

Jermyn said the chamber has seen tremendous job growth and an expansion in entrepreneurial spirit in the region and noted the change in the chamber’s address following this year’s relocation to Western Avenue.

“The new building will increase visibility of our chamber and allow us to expand our business and community leadership role in the Kennebec valley,” he said.

Cunningham, chamber president and CEO, said one of the chamber’s key goals is to be the positive voice promoting the Kennebec valley.

“This is an exceptional place with some amazing things happening, and we want to tell that story to the world,” he said, in introducing the chamber’s promotional video, “Success Starts Here,” which will be featured on the chamber’s website.

The crowd celebrated the winners of the awards announced Friday.

The President’s Choice Award went to Augusta Orthodontics.

“This category was especially difficult this year as all the organizations nominated have been consistent in their exemplary customer service and have reflected well on the Kennebec valley,” Cunningham said.

The Community Service Award went to the Kennebec Land Trust. Cunningham said the land trust was recognized for its measured approach to conservation and community development.

The Cynergy Young Professional Award went to Nate Cotnoir, who is the chairman of the Gardiner Board of Trade. The selection committee recognized the time that Cotnoir donates to charitable causes and community boards, which has benefited both the business community and the city of Gardiner.

The chamber had previously announced that C.B. Mattson, Inc., was named the Large Business of the Year, Rocky’s Stove Shoppe was named the Small Business of the Year and Thompson was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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